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Rio Olympics 2016: Belarus-trained Indian weightlifters hope to make it big

The Indian federation is, however, realistic about the duo's chance at the Olympic Games.

Sivalingam Sathish Kumar
Sivalingam Sathish Kumar is India’s sole male weightlifter at the Rio Olympic

Indian weightlifting contingent have an uphill task in the upcoming Rio Olympics. The two-member weightlifting squad comprising Sivalingam Sathish Kumar in the men’s section and Saikhom Mirabai Chanu in the women’s section are expected to find the going tough in Rio.

Both these lifters had won their right to compete in Rio after topping the men's and women's weight categories in the selection trials held in Patiala last month. Now the duo is training hard in Belarus to give their final push to their Olympic preparations.

“They are training in Belarus for a long time now – both Satish and Mirabai had been training in Belarus since last month after the selection trials were over. We are planning to ensure that they directly head to Rio from there so that they are in best shape in the run-up to the Olympics,” says Indian Weightlifting Federation secretary general D Chandrahas Rai.

Rai, who hails from Karnataka and had taken up the secretary general position in the 2013 elections, is realistic about their Olympic chances. “Look, the competition is going to be really stiff in Rio. Anything can happen in sport but it is good to be realistic. Of course we all hope for the best, ideally, our lifters should be able to finish in the top eight to ten positions, though it does not mean they cannot go beyond that,” Rai puts his perspective.

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It may be worth recalling that Sathish had earned the ticket for Rio after taking the top position among male lifters with a total lift of 336kg in the 77kg weight division. He lifted 151kg in Snatch and 185kg in Clean & Jerk.

Mirabai emerged as the best finisher among women competitors across all weight categories. What’s more, she created two new national records en route to grabbing the Olympic berth in the 48kg category. She improved on her own record by 1kg in Snatch, picking up 85kg, while she equalled the record of N Kunjarani Devi (107kg) in Clean & Jerk. In the process, Mirabai broke Kunjarani's total record of 190kg with a combined lift of 192kg.

The IWF picked the weightlifters in each category of the selection trials based on their performances at the 2012 London Olympics and World Rankings.

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