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Indian weightlifters brace up for Olympic Qualifying event in Tashkent

Our weightlifters are training hard and God willing, we will make the Olympic cut: Coach Vijay Kumar

India are expected to field a 15-member team

Indian weightlifters cut a disappointing figure at the 2015 World Weightlifting Championship in Houston, USA and in the process frittered away their Olympic qualifying hopes. But all is not lost for the Indian lifters as the upcoming Asian Weightlifting Championship to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from April 21-30, presents another opportunity to make it to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

India are expected to field a 15-member team at the Asian Weightlifting Championship, comprising eight men lifters and seven women lifters.

“Our weightlifters are training hard and God willing, we will make the Olympic cut. All we need to do is to finish in the top seven of the men and women team events in Tashkent,” says Indian weightlifting coach Vijay Sharma.

Sharma, a former national-level weightlifter, is candid in his assessment of the Indian team’s chances in Tashkent. “All top teams like China, Japan and Uzbekistan will be in Tashkent and it will not be easy for India. But I feel that if our weightlifters are able to perform at their best, we should finish in the top seven.”

At the 2011 upcoming Asian Weightlifting Championship ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, Indian men had finished outside the top six while the Indian women finished fourth. Two lifters – Soniya Chanu (48 kg) and Katala Ravi Kumar (69 kg) had represented Indian in the women’s and men’s categories at the London Olympics – Soniya settled for the seventh spot while Ravi finished fifteenth in their respective weight categories.

If India manages to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics by finishing among the top seven nations, then the country earns the right to field one lifter in both men’s and women’s weight categories at Rio.

“If we qualify for the Rio Olympics, we will have selection trials and look at past and present performances before deciding who goes on to don the national colours at Rio. We will cross the bridge when we get to it,” quips Sharma.

If the recent performances of the Indian weightlifters are anything to go by, it is possible that India may focus more on 56kg, 77kg and 85kg weight categories in the men’s section and 48kg in the women’s section. “It is too early to talk about it. Let us first qualify for the Olympics and we will take it from there,” Sharma makes his point.

One hopes that the Indian weightlifters will turn over a new leaf after a forgettable run at the 2016 World Weightlifting Championship in Houston.

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