GUWAHATI: After soccer, boxing and hockey, now it’s the turn of weightlifting which is placing Mizoram and Northeast in the limelight and making India proud.
Teen prodigy, Jeremy Lalrinnunga scripted history by bagging India’s maiden gold medal in the men’s 62kg category at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Monday night. The 15-year-old from Aizawl, a world youth silver-medalist as well, lifted a total of 274kg (124kg+150kg) to finish on top, ahead ofTurkey’s Toptas Caner, who lifted 263 kg (122kg+141kg) for silver while Colombia’s Villar Estiven Jose took the bronze, lifting 260 kg (115kg+143kg).
Speaking to The Shillong Times over phone from Aizawl on Wednesday, Jeremy’s coach at the State Sports Coaching Centre, Malsawma Khiangte said that the kid was into boxing first before he was advised to take up weightlifting in 2011 since the weightlifting academy (inaugurated in that year) at the training centre was located near his house at the Mizoram capital.
“I am elated that he has won gold in the Youth Olympics. He was just about eight years and weighing only 25kg then and I remember how I had used a bamboo pole and a 20mm water connection pipe to teach him the nuances of weightlifting under the Catch Them Young Programme,” Malsawma recalled.
In 2012, Jeremy along with four students of Malsawma were picked for the trials at the Army Sports Institute (ASI) in Pune. “Three of them, including Jeremy, Jacob Vanlaltluanga and Zakhuma were selected and since then, training at the institute.
The other two have also bagged medals at the international level,” he said. “Jeremy showed good results in physical and practical tests before earning a berth at the Boys Sports Company (at ASI).
In fact, if you ask me what separates him from the rest and makes him special, I would say, he has very strong shoulders and back muscles. His technique is very good, particularly in snatch,” Malsawma said. He also gave credit to Gubala, the coach from Slovakia at ASI and assistant coach at ASI, Zarzokima, who is from Mizoram besides India coach, Vijay Sharma.
Earlier this year, Lalrinnunga claimed a silver (youth) and a bronze (junior) in the Asian Championships, smashing two national records in the process.
A proud Zarzokima, speaking to this correspondent from ASI, Pune, attributed another quality, agility, as a trait which has seen Jeremy reach such heights at such a young age.
“He was very light weight when he was advised to take up the sport. With good motor quality, speed and strength, Jeremy is undoubtedly a sensation and poised for greater success in future,” Zarzokima said.
‘‘Chief coach Vijay Sharma says that he has the attributes to represent India in the 2020 Olympics,” a proud Lalneihtluanga, who is Jeremy’s father told the correspondent.