Wherever I went, all I got was an assurance for help but nothing in reality: Powerlifter Mukesh Tripathi
Son of an army man, Powerlifter Mukesh Tripathi hails from a small town in Madhya Pradesh. Weighing 110 kg, Mukesh can be seen lifting weights as heavy as 400 kg in squat, 292 kg in a deadlift, and 215 kg on the bench press. The 23-year-old has immense passion for the sport and has already won various national and international medals. He now has his eyes set at bagging a medal for the country at the World Powerlifting Championships which are slated to happen in November in Sweden.
In this candid conversation with Sportskeeda, Mukesh tells us more about the sport, how his preparations are going on, and what the current status of the sport is in India.
Q. How has your training been going for the World Powerlifting Championships?
Mukesh: I have been running from post to pillar to get sponsorship for the World Powerlifting Championships. However, so far I have been unable to get the required financial aid and my training has also suffered as a result.
My father is a retired army man and I have 3 brothers, 2 of whom are elder to me. They both are doing private jobs. Mostly all my relatives are in a private job and everyone has their own families and expenses. I require at least Rs. 20,000 per month solely on my diet and that is a huge amount for us. Sometimes I have to make do with even Rs. 10,000 but if I do not get the proper diet when I am training for such competitions it is a huge problem.
Q. How did your journey start as a powerlifter?
Mukesh: I started by taking part in an Under-18 Championship in Jabalpur. This was back in 2013. Even though I won gold here I could not make a place in the U-23 Championship. My aim was to get a custom kit which was imported from Texas, USA. All my relatives contributed a little to help me purchase the kit finally in 2016 and by 2017 my full focus was on improving my game.
I won a Gold in U-23 Championship as well as a Bronze in squat in Asian Powerlifting Championship in 2017 (I was fifth overall). The most recent medal was a Bronze in Open Senior national championships. Through the Bronze at Asian Powerlifting Championships in 2018, I was selected for the World Powerlifting Championships.
Q. What are the problems you are facing in getting sponsorship for the World Powerlifting Championships?
Mukesh: This is not the first time that I have been selected for the World Powerlifting Championships. I had been selected last year as well (which was happening in Canada) but the reason I was unable to go back then because of lack of funds. They may again become the reason I may be unable to go now. The World Championships are a very prestigious event but the expenditure is also a little over Rs. 2 lakh. I won't be able to give this amount on my own so I have taken help from the crowdfunding platform -- Ketto -- to help me raise the amount through an online campaign.
Q. Did you receive any help from the government or any foundation?
Mukesh: The local MLA has supported me by giving Rs. 40,000 but that will also come after 10 days. However, this amount is nowhere close to sufficient. When I approach the government, I am always given the reason that Powerlifting is not an Olympic sport and that is why they can not help me. However, my argument is that even cricket is not an Olympic sport so why so much support and facilities for them?
Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh support their athletes so much. Even Madhya Pradesh provides financial aid but it is only my sport -- Powerlifting -- for which they have stopped allocating funds. I met a lot of ministers and it is not that I asked for the complete Rs. 2 lakh from one of them. I just asked them to give me whatever little amount they can by seeing that my future is at stake but they are not even ready to do that.
In fact, I am the current state record holder with a total lift of 895 kg across the three disciplines.
Q. What are the nuances of Powerlifting?
Mukesh: There are three sub-events in Powerlifting. The first is the squat, then comes the bench press, and finally the deadlift. In all competitions, we get three attempts in each one of them and the best one of each counts in accumulating the total score. The best total scores of all the powerlifters are used for comparison and deciding the Champion.
Q. What is your frame of mind right now after all your struggles?
Mukesh: Wherever I went, all I got was an assurance for help but nothing in reality. As an athlete, this does break you as all you want to do is focus on your training and not worry about such things. I have friends in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and they don't have to run so much for sponsorship. Leave everything aside, I am yet to receive the Rs. 1,20,000 which was promised to me after I won two medals at the Asian Championships. Hence, all these things do take a toll on you mentally.
Q. Where are you training currently?
Mukesh: I am currently in Nehru Nagar in Bhopal. I train at one of the government gyms -- Mantralaya Sports club. My family has constantly been behind me and that is what pushes me.
Q. What will be your next target, if god forbid, you are again unable to go for the World Powerlifting Championships? What will be your plans then? Will you quit the sport or continue struggling till you succeed?
Mukesh: I will continue doing powerlifting as that has now become a part of me. I am also in an excellent form currently. Events will keep happening but I just wish to make it to the World Powerlifting Championships as that is the biggest of them all. There is also the all-India inter-university championship coming up in December 2018. Last time I was 4th but I am hopeful of getting a gold medal there this time around.
Playing in the World Powerlifting Championships is my dream. Let's hope that the circumstances turn in my favour.
I have made up my mind that I will continue in the sport for at least another year and give it all I have. However, if I am unable to get any support even then, they I will have no option but to reconsider.
It now remains no mystery that Mukesh Tripathi is in dire need of help. It is a shame that such sportspersons are not being given the means to perform and reach what they are capable of achieving.
Powerlifter Mukesh Tripathi has qualified for the World Powerlifting Championships but might be unable to go there just due to lack of funds. All Mukesh needs a little financial backing and he will be giving it his all for bringing a medal for the motherland from such a prestigious event. You can contribute to his journey here.