She is shy and shows none of it in the weightlifting arena. Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu is India’s biggest medal hope among women weightlifters for the upcoming World Weightlifting Championship, which begins in Houston, USA from November 10.
The 21-year-old Manipuri lass, who took up the sport after being inspired by the exploits of former weightlifting great N Kunjarani Devi, is keen to make a big impression at the World Weightlifting Championship on the back of consecutive gold medal efforts in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and 2015 Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship.
The Railway employee, who shot into prominence winning the gold medal in the 2009 Senior Nationals in Pune before going on to bag a bronze medal in the 2011 Asian Weightlifting Championship – her senior international debut. Sanjita spoke about her preparations for the upcoming World Weightlifting Championship among others in an exclusive interview.
Q How do you assess your preparations for the upcoming World Weightlifting Championship?
The training has been good so far. I’m looking to raise the bar at the camp and at the same time stay injury-free. My gold medal effort in the recent Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship has been a big boost for me. Keeping my fingers crossed for the World Weightlifting Championship.
Q You compete in the 48 kg category – who are your most formidable opponents in your weight category at the World Weightlifting Championship?
No opponent is easy in the World Weightlifting Championship as everyone trains hard for this big event. But girls from China, Turkey, Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, Mexico are really strong.
Q This is your second World Weightlifting Championship – you had earlier taken part in the 2011 edition in Paris.
Paris was my first World Weightlifting Championship and I had finished 11th on that occasion. A Chinese lifter had won the gold and I’m now keen to improve on my 11th position attained in the 2011 edition.
Q You won the 48 kg gold medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games with a total lift of 173 kg and you recently won the 48 kg gold medal at the recent Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship in Pune with a total lift of 182 kg. How realistic are your chances of winning a medal at the upcoming World Weightlifting Championship?
I believe achieving a total lift of above 190kg should ensure a world championship medal. As you can see I have been improving on my 2014 Commonwealth Games performance of a total lift of 173 kg and touched 182 kg in the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship in Pune. I managed 186 kg in the trials and hoping to go further up at the upcoming World Weightlifting Championship.
Q You won the gold medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and then gave the 2014 Incheon Asian Games a miss.
I sustained a back injury after the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and had to miss the 2014 Asian Games. Subsequently, I also missed the 2014 World Weightlifting Championship held in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Q You seem to have some competition going with Saikhom Mirabai Chanu in 48 kg category – you pushed her to second spot in both 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games as well as in the 2015 Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship.
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu is a talented weightlifter and is a good friend of mine. We support each other in training and there is healthy competition between us, which is good as it helps both of us to raise the performance bar in pursuit of excellence.
Q You derived a lot of inspiration from former great N Kunjarani Devi.
I took up weightlifting getting inspired by her exploits on the international stage. She has achieved so much for the country and it really feels good to have her as coach of the women’s team. There is so much to learn from her.
Q Unlike other sports, weightlifting is one where recovery process of the athlete is long. There is always feeling that weightlifters should have adequate gap between tourneys so that they can be at their best. Your thoughts.
The recovery process for weightlifters is long – usually a tournament gets over and the next tourney should happen ideally after one or two months as our recovery is not proper if events are held in quick succession.Published 02 Nov 2015, 21:20 IST