Weightlifter P Gururaja opened India’s medal account on the first competition day of the 21st Commonwealth Games, claiming a silver in the men’s 56kg category here today.
The 25 year-old Gururaja, making his CWG debut, equalled his personal best of 249kg (111+138) to finish second in a field where Malaysia’s three-time Commonwealth Championships medallist Muhammad Izhar Ahmed (117+144) broke the Games record for snatch and overall lift.
“I am very happy to have opened India’s medal account in the Games. It was nowhere close to being my best performance but I am glad that it was enough to get me a silver medal,” a grinning Gururaja said after the effort.
Gururaja was third after snatch, pulling off a best of 111kg after two good lifts before surviving a few nervy moments in clean and jerk. The Indian failed in his first two attempts before managing a good lift off his last chance to zoom to the top half of the table.
“I didn’t quite understand why my second lift was not declared valid. It was disallowed for a very minor movement of the arm. Had it been allowed I could have gone for a higher lift an perhaps target gold. But still I am happy,” said the diminutive lifter from Karnataka.
Ahmed, meanwhile, bettered his compatriot Hamizan Amirul Ibrahim’s snatch record of 116kg, created in 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. He then broke the overall Games record, which was also in the name of Ibrahim.
The Malaysia showman, who got the crowd behind him with his exuberant celebrations after every successful lift. was simply unstoppable, leaving a fairly occupied Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre enthralled. The third position was taken by Sri Lanka’s Lakmal Chaturanga (114+134). “The medals for the last three years have been rotating among the three of us,” Gururaja observed.
Gururaja, a low-ranking Indian Air Force employee, is a quintessential Indian sports story of immense hardships and just a tiny bit of luck. Son of a truck driver, Gururaja had aspired to be a wrestler for the longest time before being pushed into weightlifting by a watchful coach who saw potential in him. “I am happy I took up weightlifting,” he laughed.