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Women lifters arrive to a warm welcome

A pall of gloom might have descended on the weightlifting community in the light of positive dope tests, but it did not come in the way of a warm welcome being extended to the women's team that arrived from Australia.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2006 10:58 IST

A pall of gloom might have descended on the Indian weighlifting community in the light of positive dope tests at the 18th Commonwealth Games, but it did not come in the way of a warm welcome being extended to the women's team that arrived from Australia on Friday night.

"I am happy with our girls' performance. They have won three gold and two silver. I hope we can do better in the Asiad," said Harbhajan Singh, manager of the team and also a vice-president of Indian Weightlifting Federation on arrival.

Kunjarani Devi, who won the gold in 48-kg category, attributed the narrow margin of her victory over the nearest contender to recent rule changes.

"There have been some rule changes recently which has made competition at the international tough," she said.

Geeta Rani and Simple Kaur, who won the gold and silver in the 75-kg section, Renubala Yumnam and Monica Devi were the other members of the team.

Curiously, the national federation had kept the arrival of men lifters on Friday a secret while it was forthcoming in making available to the media that of the women's team.

There was no escaping, though, for Harbhajan Singh who was bombarded with question about the positive dope tests of Edwin Raju and Tejinder Singh.

The manager for his part put up a brave front.

"I don't think anybody would be such a fool to take drugs when tests are strictly done. Our lifters were tested by WADA before we left for Melbourne," he said.

"But if it has happened, it is unfortunate because it will have adverse effect on all the (Indian) lifters," he added referring to the possible four-year ban on the federation that could be sanctioned under the rules for three or more positive tests by a country.

First Published: Mar 25, 2006 10:58 IST