Pune: Maharashtra weightlifting have no glorious stories of the past, but Khelo India Youth Games have unfolded Shubham Kolekar and Soumya Dalvi, who emerged one of the biggest prospects for the future of Indian weightlifting.
Shubham Kolekar always had the hunger for gold medal and he duly secured it with a Junior National Record in 55kg class on Wednesday.
He has come a long way from the lad who was attending a dance class when, spotting a good lifter’s physique, coach Santosh Sinhasane roped him in to his gym and trained him.
Son of a small fabrication unit owner in Sangli, the youngster took to the sport with an intensity that has driven him this far.
On Wednesday, it did not matter to him that Muna Nayak, nearly three years his junior, was snapping at his heels. The Odisha lifter had opened up a five kg lead and his team-mate Prashant Koli was a further two kg ahead after the round of snatch lifts. He knew that he would be able to cover some ground in clean and jerk.
He did keep an eye on the rivals to see what weight they are asking for to be loaded on the barbell. Nayak opened with 128kg after Koli and Piyush Singh (Madhya Pradesh) fell behind. Shubham joined the fray at 133 kg to tie with the Odia lifter. Muna Nayak attempted to match him with 133 kg but failed twice to leave the Sangli lad with the task of lifting one kg more to ensure gold.
An hour and a half later, dope test and media interviews done, he looked for some food to satiate his hunger. He had been starving himself over a few days to reduce around three kilos.
“My coach had told me that I would have to aim for the National record since we knew that my snatch would not be my best suit today. It was important that we remained smart and gift away gold in an ambitious pursuit that could result in a no-lift in snatch.”
He won the National Junior Championship crown in Nagpur less than a fortnight ago and had increased his body weight to prepare for KIYG2019.
“I was 58kg three days ago and had to stop eating and even reduce my fluid intake to be able to come down below 55kg before the weigh-in on the morning of the competition,” he said.
Despite being a self-confessed average student, Shubham has shown great understanding of his coach’s strategy in raising the body weight ahead of a competitiont.
Santosh Sinhasane says the quality of food is not as nutritious as in the past and hence has recommended some protein supplement.
Soumya, dancer turned lifter
She will surely be a name to reckon in coming years in weightlifting. The 13-year-old from Kalyan has stamped her authority on her chosen sport in very quick time.
Soumya took to weightlifting at age 12, and in one and a half years has won national championships while creating records along the way. Her first taste of success came at the Nagpur national last year when she created records in snatch and overall total.
Her other love is dancing, and if it was not for weightlifting, it would have been dancing that would have been her profession of choice.
Come 2019, and she was selected in the Maharashtrian contingent for the Khelo India Youth Games at Pune and almost effortlessly not only bettered her own records but went on to clinch gold in the U-17 Women 40kg category.