Jeremy Lalrinnunga will make Olympics cut but a work in progress: national coach Vijay Sharma
- The teenager finishes eighth in Asian meet but the coach expects him to qualify for the Tokyo Games on continental ranking.
Since he won gold at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics, Jeremy Lalrinnunga is seen as a big prospect for India in weightlifting. He was fast-tracked into international competition with an eye on the Tokyo Olympics.
At the Youth Olympics, Jeremy competed in the 62kg category, lifting 274kg. In the last two years, Jeremy has put in lot of hard work to bulk up and compete in 67kg in qualification tournaments.
With his participation at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent on Monday, the lifter from Mizoram completed the Olympics qualification cycle. The results were not to the level he expected—he finished eighth. Chief national coach Vijay Sharma though said the 18-year-old had done enough to make the cut for Tokyo Olympics through the continental qualification route.
“He is immensely talented and is still a work in progress. Though he should be able to make the cut for Tokyo Olympics, he is very young and we are preparing him for the 2024 Olympics. Tokyo will be a good experience for him,” said Sharma.
Jeremy lifted 139kg in snatch and 163kg in clean and jerk (total-302kg). He lifted 135kg in his first snatch attempt, failed in his first attempt at 139kg, but cleared it in his third and final attempt. In clean and jerk too, Jeremy was in some discomfort. He lifted 163kg in first attempt, and failed in the next two attempts to lift 168kg.
“He will qualify through continental berths. Jeremy and Saudi Arabian lifter Mohammed Almazyadi were in contention for the Tokyo Olympics berth. Jeremy had 3,200 robi points, 500 ahead of the Saudi lifter. Both have lifted 302kg today so Jeremy should qualify on rankings,” Sharma said.
The ‘robi points' is the official IWF calculation method to compare individual athletes Total results across weight categories.
Sharma said Jeremy complained of a sore hand during snatch and in clean and jerk felt some impact in the knee. “It was just not his day. He has the ability to lift 10kg more than what he did. In clean and jerk, he felt some discomfort in his knee. It is because he is a fighter that he was still able to complete the lift.
“The physio checked his knee and it looks fine but we will do an MRI on return to India,” he said.
It was after 16 months that Jeremy was competing in an international tournament. He was nicely shaping up for qualification tournaments before the pandemic struck. At the Qatar Cup in December 2019, Jeremy won silver with a total lift of 306kg (140 kg snatch, 166 kg clean and jerk). At the national championships, he lifted 299kg (132+167).
“We have made good progress with him. His body needed to bulk up for 67kg because he is still young. And we have been able to achieve that. He still needs to put up muscles as per his weight category and we are working towards that. In every competition he has made progress, and this was just an aberration,” said Sharma.
Jeremy’s childhood coach Malsawma Khiangte spoke to him on Monday night. “He said there was something that did not go well during the competition.”
Khiangte, who trained him initially in Aizawl, said Jeremy has a very good technique but needs to work on strength. “His back is very strong and that is his strength. The back muscles work in good coordination and allow good hyperextension.
“But he needs to put on more muscles and develop overall strength. If he can do that, he has immense potential.”