Low-profile Soniya keen to spring up surprise

Karnam Malleshwari's bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics raised the profile of Indian weightlifting by several notches but little is expected of London-bound Soniya Chanu and the lifter does not mind it one bit as she is keen on springing a surprise at the mega-event.

"I don't want to commit anything regarding winning a medal at the Olympics right now but I'm extremely hopeful of doing well. Pura chance hai medal jeetne ka (there is every chance of winning a medal)," Chanu told PTI.

Chanu (48 kg), who is joint 10th in the latest world rankings, said has a good chance of making the podium if she manages to deliver her best.

"I have prepared well keeping in mind the requirements of the Olympic Games and I am pretty happy with it. Although it is always difficult to say how things will turn out during the competition, I'm confident if I give my 100 per cent, I stand a chance (of winning a medal)," she insisted.

India earned two quota places for London Olympics -- one each in men's and women's sections (K Ravi Kumar in 69 kg and Soniya) -- during the Senior Asian Championships in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

India finished fifth in the men's team standings with 134 points and fourth in the women's section with 93 points to earn the places.

Asserting if she maintains her present form and manages to reach 178kg mark, which she claims to be achieving in the training, India may just end up with a medal in weightlifting.

"I lifted 75kg in snatch to win the bronze, while 100kg in clean and jerk. I finished fourth overall with a total of 175kg at the Asian Championships, which was pretty good.

"I also did well in the World Championships with a total lift of 171kg and finished sixth overall. If I can reach around 178kg at the Olympics, I can certainly win a medal. And right now I'm doing better than that at the training," Soniya said.

Both Soniya and Ravi Kumar were training at NIS Patiala before they left for London on July 16 and the former lifter said she was satisfied with the kind of facilities they are getting at the institute.

"Facilities (at NIS Patiala) are very good and things are in order as per the Olympics requirements. My fitness level has improved. The supplements that they provide us are also very good," the 32-year-old explained.

The Manipur girl said the lifters would get about 10-12 days before their competition starts on July 28 in London and that would be enough time to prepare for the mega-event.

"Unlike in other sports, weightlifters do not need to get acclimatised so much. Thus, we would continue with the same training there as well. There is enough time to get the feel of the place and get prepared," she said.

Elaborating on the training schedule in the run-up to the Olympics, Soniya said: "After the Asian Championships in Korea, I did not compete in any tournament as one needs at least 20 days of recovery time after an event in this discipline. And since there was hardly any time left, I just concentrated on training harder and improving on my weakness and fitness."

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