BENGALURU: “Be patient, it will take time.” These were words Sathish Sivalingam heard often when he was visiting doctors in Bengaluru late last year, for a recurring back pain. In the city initially to treat a thigh injury sustained at the Asian Games, the weightlifter had recovered from it, but the other problem was not getting better. After being advised to allow it to heal gradually, he told himself, ‘I don’t have time to be patient’. There is a reason for that.
Because this is an Olympic qualification year, he could not relax and take it easy. So he went to Patiala for training instead. A weightlifter has to feature in at least six IWF-designated events (Gold and Silver level only) in an 18-month period to be eligible for qualification for Tokyo 2020. This period is divided into three phases — November 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019; May 1, 2019 to October 31, 2019; November 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020.
Even though troubled by the back, it’s important for Sathish to feature in the EGAT’s Cup in Thailand starting on February 7. He is yet to take part in any of the competitions that constitute the six and if he skips even one now, he will miss that number. “I am going there just to participate. My focus is on the Asian Championships, where I will have to do well,” Sathish told The New Indian Express.
It may not matter if he is below par in Thailand. Only four results will be considered from the six events — the best from each phase and the fourth being the next best in any one of them. Who all qualify will be determined after the final list of ‘Absolute Ranking Points’ is released. For Sathish, the next real target is the Asian Championships in China from April 18.
One wonders if he will be at his best, fitness-wise, in the continental championship. The 2014 and 2018 CWG gold medallist in 77kg started training in Patiala only last month. Set to compete in the 81kg category now, he is still to start heavyweight training. The 26-year-old has been carrying the back problem for three years. It made him wonder if he would ever be able to compete for India.
“Returning from Indonesia (Asian Games), I was scared if I would be able to make a comeback. As of now, I have started training, but I am keeping it light. I hope to get back to full fitness ahead of the Asian Championships, which is important with the Olympics coming up. Back is the only problem. Sometimes I am okay, but at times it gets worse. I do not want to stress myself, thinking about other things like pressure, as the injury could worsen.”