Behind Venkat Rahul Ragala's Commonwealth gold lies the tireless efforts of his coach Manikyala Rao

Weightlifting coach P Manikyala Rao recalls spotting Venkat Rahul Ragala at one of the Telangana State Sports School competitions more than a decade ago.
Gold medalist Indian weightlifter Venkat Rahul Ragala competes at men's 85 kg Weightlifting category during the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold Coast. | PTI
Gold medalist Indian weightlifter Venkat Rahul Ragala competes at men's 85 kg Weightlifting category during the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold Coast. | PTI

HYDERABAD: The clairvoyance that weightlifting coach P Manikyala Rao had shown more than a decade ago shaped up into a Gold medal at the ongoing Commonwealth Games on Saturday. Lifting a total of 338 kilograms, his ward of 10 years, Venkat Rahul Ragala, clinched the top prize in the men’s 85 kilogram category. While Rahul was getting accolades from all over for his remarkable performance, Rao was worried about his minuscule monthly salary of Rs 20,800, that he receives for his services to the Telangana State Sports School located in the city.

Life, Rao says, has been a constant struggle for him, even though he has worked at TSSS since 1999. “Though it has been almost two decades, I get paid Rs 20,800. There is no other source of income for me. This is the first time, I am getting some kind of attention. I hope this helps in improving my family’s financial condition,” Rao told Express.

Rao recalls spotting Rahul at one of the school-level competitions more than a decade ago. “I first saw him in 2006-07. Then only I knew that this boy was capable of something special. I took him straight to TSSS and I have been training him ever since. And today he made all of us proud,” Rao said.

Coming back to his financial troubles, Rao said that regularisation of jobs has only been a dream for coaches like him. “We have not been regularised even after so many years of work. This whole thing is quite disappointing.”

Financial troubles notwithstanding, the 49-year-old coach has closely followed Rahul’s progress at the tournament, which is being held in Gold Coast, Australia. "I was confident that he will get a medal. But, I had not really expected him to go all the way and lay his hands on the Gold medal. There are no words that can truly explain how hard this boy prepared for the tournament.”

Rahul had shown glimpses of his talent a few months ago at the Commonwealth Senior Weightlifting Championship by a gold medal-winning performance. After his latest exploits, Rao is confident that the 21-year-old is capable of medalling at all the major competitions. “He will get a medal at the Asian Games. And even a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is possible,” Rao said.

Now that his protege has made an impression internationally, Rao hopes the gloomy days of a paltry salary would come to an end.

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