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India look to open medal account with weightlifting

18th Commonwealth Games - Day 1: Weightlifting india’s first medal in the 20th Commonwealth Games is expected to come tomorrow from weightlifting when the competitions begin with the women’s 48kg and men’s 56kg weight categories, respectively, here.

In both weight categories, the Indians are expected to win medals and tomorrow’s performance may set the stage for their challenge at the Games, where they would look to do better than the 2010 Delhi edition.

Nigeria topped the weightlifting medal charts in 2010 edition with five gold, four silver and five bronze followed by Samoa (3, 0, 0) and India (2, 2, 4). This time also, India, with six lifters from 2010 Games, are likely to maintain that level of performance.

Nigeria’s preparation has not gone well as lack of funds did not allow them to go for foreign training and exposure. They have, however, named a strong squad, including 2010 63kg gold winner Obioma Agatha Okoli.

India had done exceedingly well in the 2013 Commonwealth Championships in Johannesburg last November. Many Indian lifters are among top three of the latest Commonwealth rankings.

2010 CWG gold medallist in men’s 69kg, K Ravi Kumar is again in the team but he is competing in 77kg this time, and is not expected to win gold in his new weight category having laid low for a long time due to injury.

Khumukcham Sanjita and Saikhom Mirabai Chanu are competing tomorrow in women’s 48kg and India has the chance to win two medals from this category. This has been a strong category for India since the days of Kunjarani Devi. India had won a silver and bronze in this category in 2010.

The Indian duo will have a strong competitor in Chika Amalaha of Nigeria, who had won silver in 53kg in Commonwealth Championships, but is competing in 48kg class here.

Canada’s Jessica Ruel, who lifted 158 (72+86) recently, South African Porta Vries, who lifted 157kg (70+87) to win silver behind India’s Mirabai in Commonwealth Championships, could be the other challengers. Augustina Nwokolo of Nigeria, who had won gold in 2010 CWG with 175kg (77+98), has not been named in her country’s team.

Sanjita and Mirabai lifted 179kg (79+100) and 161kg (72+89) respectively in the Senior National Weightlifting Championships in March-April. Mirabai won gold in 2013 Commonwealth Championships with a total lift of 166kg (73+93).