The best names in the sport stayed away from the weightlifting competition at the 34th National Games severely affecting participation in some events. Only two took part in the men's 69kg competition on Wednesday and in the men's 56kg on Tuesday, there were three. Even the women's section was hit by poor turnout.
Speaking from Ranchi, a national coach termed the situation alarming. Preferring anonymity, the coach hinted at stringent dope tests at the Games being the reason for top names confirming participation and then pulling out.
Sahdev Yadav, the secretary-general of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF), though blamed the Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA) for this.
"The Games have been postponed several times. Nobody was sure whether it would be held this time too. Hence, those lifters who were not prepared to compete have skipped the competition," he said.
Yadav denied that the fear of tests had anything to do with the low-key response, saying instead that lifters are gearing up for next month's national championships.
Asked whether medals can be awarded when only two competitors are taking part, SM Bali, chairman of the Games technical conduct committee, said, "Rules are being followed but still check with competition director," he said. K Ravi
Kumar won gold and P Rambabu too silver in the men's 69kg.