Jeremy, Mirabai shoulder Indian hopes in World Weightlifting Championships
The spotlight will be on Both Mirabai Chanu and Jeremy Lalrinnunga when World Weightlifting Championships kick off in Pattya, Thailand from September 18.Updated: Sep 18, 2019 10:32 IST
A sixteen-year-old Mizoram boy, Jeremy Lalrinnunga, and a pint-sized 24-year-old Manipuri, Mirabai Chanu, will shoulder the weight of all expectations from the Indian squad when World Weightlifting Championships kick off in Pattya, Thailand from September 18.
Both are used to the heavy lifting. Despite India sending a strong nine-member squad, the spotlight will be on the teenage Aizawl boy who has gone on a record-breaking spree ever since he took part in the Asian Championships at Ningbo, China in April.
Competing in the 67kg men’s category, the Youth Olympic Games gold-medallist smashed the Youth World and Asian records in snatch, clean & jerk and total lift.
On that eventful day, he cleaned through a total of 15 records; six international—three youth world, three youth Asian—and nine national marks, in youth, junior, and senior.
Four months later Lalrinnunga did it again, setting the youth world record in snatch with a lift of 136kg, this time at the Commonwealth Championships in Apia, Samoa.
But the dampener came in clean & jerk where he had a “no lift” and thus missed a great opportunity to add ranking points to his kitty.
As he eyes the World Championships, the 67kg powerhouse, who, his coaches say “is gifted with explosive power and a physique naturally suited to lifting weights more than twice his bodyweight”, will have to hit a total in excess of 300kgs if he hopes to compete with the best in the world and qualify for the Olympics.
Though the gap between his total lift at Ningbo (297kg—snatch 134kg, clean & jerk 163kg) and the 300kg target set for the Worlds is a measly three kilo, chief coach Vijay Sharma knows it’s easier said than done. “The World Championships will be the stage where we will test that out,” he says.
Plenty of hope
But given the rapid improvement Lalrinnunga has made this year gives plenty of hope. His previous best before the Ningbo event in April was 288kg, which he improved by nine kgs in the Chinese city with a total lift of 297kg.
“What is important for him as well as Chanu is that both lifters have to add weight to the bar that would ensure earning more points and eventually improving the overall ranking points to win berths for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, said Sharma from Pattya. “We haven’t set any target for them, but what we are expecting from the duo is to lift more weights so that they have a bright chance of making the Olympic cut.”
As per the new rules of the world governing body for weightlifting, in order to qualify for the Olympics, the athletes have to compete in six competitions over a period of 18 months and the four best performances will be considered for the final ranking, which will be announced after the continental competition in April next.
Chanu’s season best has been 199kg in 49kg category (86kg and 113kg) in April at the Asian Championship.
More recently, her gold medal-winning performance at the Commonwealth Championships was 191 (84kg in snatch and 107kg in clean and jerk). Though both these competitions were Olympic Qualifying events, Sharma says, from now on, anything less than 200kgs will not help her cause.
“If she manages 200kgs in Pattya, it will give her the confidence to go set new targets. I am very hopeful Chanu will breach the 200kg mark,” he added.
The Indian squad do have a different kind of a problem to contend with—a goof-up by the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) last year has left the contingent facing a stiff fine, and if that penalty is not paid before the start of competition, Indian could be barred from competing.
Last year, lifter Poonam Dalal’s urine sample, which was collected during the trials for the World University Games returned negative at the NDTL, but when it was retested at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited lab in Montreal, it came positive for anabolic steroid stanozolol. (NDTL lost its WADA accreditation last month).
As per the weightlifting world governing body’s anti-doping policy, for any anti-doping rule violation, the member federation “shall automatically pay a fine of $5,000 (R3.5 lakh) along with with the analysis cost of the test and all other costs incurred in connection with the violation”. Which means India have just one day to fulfil that obligation.
With the weightlifting federation blaming the NDTL for the situation, there is little clarity as to who will pay the penalty, the federation or the sports ministry.