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Powerlifting his way to Asian Championship -- meet B Prabhu

While Prabhu has lifted a total of 727 kg for the Asian gold, the grit that runs through his bloodstream surely packs a bigger punch.

Published: 09th January 2022 05:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th January 2022 07:50 AM   |  A+A-

Prabhu on the podium after winning gold in Asian Powerlifting Championship in Turkey | Express

Express News Service

TIRUPUR: ‘He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life’ — Muhammad Ali

When B Prabhu stepped out of the Coimbatore Airport on December 31, there was jubilation in the air. Flowers and firecrackers welcomed the man who lifted the pride of Avinashi in Turkey. A motley crowd of friends and relatives cheered him outside the arrival terminal.

For Prabhu, it was a long trek to Istanbul. At the Asian Powerlifting Championship, held in the last week of December, he lifted a total of 725 kilogram (squat: 300kg, bench: 150kg, dead lift: 275kg), in the Under-74 kg category, and emerged victorious. A gold to cherish for many years to come. For his friends and family who took loans and pooled in over Rs 3 lakh for his foreign trip, it was a blissful moment.

A local felicitation event was held the next day at Avinashi new bus stand, where local boys and fitness experts from several gyms gathered to cheer him. It was just the beginning of a string of such events that followed.His journey, though wasn’t a cakewalk. He didn’t have enough money for the trip. “I had almost decided to back out of the competition as we were trapped in debt.” But his family and well-wishers came forward to crowd-fund him.

The 23-year-old Prabhu, a management post-graduate student, is a born fighter. A native of Kamaraj Street in Avinashi, born into a family that continues to struggle to make ends meet, he has learned the importance of hard work and the art of taking risks. During his school days, Prabhu played football, and dived into fitness and other sports at an early age. As a young boy in 2007, he, along with his brother B Karthi, proudly watched their father, S Bhaskar, bag a gold medal at a local powerlifting competition. There was so much appreciation and a loud applause from the crowd, Prabhu fondly recalls.

Bhaskar, who works at a roadside eatery, swears by the magic of powerlifting. Sensing his sons’ keen interest in the sport, he purchased an iron rod and 7.5-kg plates. At a young age, Prabhu began powerlifting with 20 kilograms. “Regular practice made my body strong, and soon, I began demanding more weight,” he says. “When my brother and I were slightly older, my father gave us relentless training. But we needed a small gym with more space and equipment.”

The family’s income wasn’t enough to make it a reality. They then borrowed Rs 2.5 lakh and built a rudimentary gym. But the joy didn’t last long. “Some of the equipment was old and we needed heavyweights for powerlifting. Once again, we took a loan of Rs 1 lakh for the gear,” he says, the mounting debt and the daily struggle leaving a shadow on his smile.

Luck came their way when Karthi, also a powerlifter, secured a job as a forest guard through the sports quota. While this helped their monthly expenses, the loan continued to loom over them. Prabhu’s two hours of daily drudgery paid him off in 2015, when he won a gold medal at the All-India Powerlifting Tournament in the Under-54 kilogram category. Since then, he has never looked back. A steady stream of medals followed in 2016, 2017, and 2018 at State-and District-level tournaments.

The prize money helped him get through the college fee — for both a BCA degree and a Masters in Human Resource Management. “This also boosted my confidence,” Prabhu says. His father is an endless source of inspiration for him.

“Being a powerlifter is tough as it is a strength-based sport. It consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. It requires daily practice and tremendous power,” says Bhaskar. While Prabhu has lifted a total of 727 kg for the Asian gold, the grit that runs through his bloodstream surely packs a bigger punch.



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