CHENNAI: Post the recent slump in Indian weightlifting that culminated in a wretched display at the Rio Olympics last year, things have been shaken up by national weightlifting coach Vijay Sharma. The six core lifters — Sathish Sivalingam, RV Rahul, Vikas Thakur, Mirabai Chanu, Sanjita Chanu, Punam Yadav — who are currently training at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala have been given fresh routines and Sharma has firmly set sights on the Asian Games next year.
“Most of these lifters had already reached the ceiling limit that the old routines could help them achieve. So after the last nationals (held in Nagercoil in December), we decided to shake-up their training routines. The ultimate aim is to do well at the Asian Games, where no lifter has won a medal since 1998. Things have gone well so far and we’re hopeful they get better by the time the next event comes up,” he told Express on Sunday.
That event will be the Commonwealth Senior, Junior & Youth Championships, to be held in Gold Coast, Australia, from September 3 to 9. But Sharma knows that is just the beginning.
“We will use the Commonwealth Championships to assess how far we have come and we’ll know what more we have to do in order to prepare well for the Asian meet in 2018,” he added.
Of the six core lifters, two have impressed the most. “Mirabai and Rahul have come a long way since the new routines came into effect. While the others are still to break their previous performances, these two have improved a lot. Rahul, the Youth Commonwealth Games silver winner, has shown a lot of potential, despite being relatively new to the fold. We had a performance trial last week and these two came up with top-notch showings. There will be three more such trials till the Asian Games and the hope is that the rest will also be able to get better and raise their standard.”
The period till September will be crucial for the lifters. “We go to Shilaroo for high-altitude training on April 9, and stay there for the next five weeks. The plan is to go there every year for at least four weeks. High-altitude training helps build endurance, which is key for our lifters if they are to perform well at elite events. But we’ll do so for a maximum of five weeks as the thin air there isn’t really conducive for weightlifting,” he concluded.