Lifters rake in the moolah

Sathish, Venkat battle through pain barrier to land gold

Lifters rake in the moolah

Nowhere close to complete fitness and without a fulltime physio to care for their niggles, Indian weightlifters remained leaps ahead of their Commonwealth Games competitors, taking their gold medal tally to four through Sathish Sivalingam (77kg) and Venkat Rahul Ragala (85kg) here on Saturday.

After Mirabai Chanu (48kg) and Sanjita Chanu (53kg), Sathish and Rahul continued India's gold-collecting spree at the Games. The yellow metal count is already one more than the previous 2014 edition with two more days of competition left.

Add to this, P Gururaja (56kg) and Deepak Lather's (69kg) silver and bronze respectively and it is turning out to be quite a performance.

Sathish, the defending champion, and Rahul overcame the pain barrier posed by their respective unhealed thigh and knee injuries to claim gold medals.

The 25-year-old Sathish lifted a total of 317kg (114kg + 173kg) and was so ahead of the  competition that he forfeited his final clean and jerk lift. Rahul, on the other hand, had to wait right till the end owing to close competition from eventual silver-medallist Samoa's Don Opeloge.

Both the lifters were nursing niggles but their physio Aakrant Saxena did not have access to them in the competition area because of the accreditation blunder that hasn't given him the requisite access. It's an error for which neither the national federation nor the IOA is willing to take the blame.

"I had no hopes of winning a medal after I injured my thighs during the national championships while attempting 194kg in clean and jerk. It's a quadriceps problem, even now I am competing at less than ideal fitness but I am glad that was enough to get me a gold," Sathish said after his medal ceremony during which he was accorded a warm applause by the packed arena.

The 21-year-old Rahul, who is a Commonwealth Championships gold-medallist, lifted a total of 338kg (151kg + 187kg) to finish on top.

"I had been weakened by a knee injury during the Commonwealth Championships last year. But the coaches supported me immensely to get this medal. I haven't been able to train that well," he said.

"I am still not fully recovered," said the lifter who wears his late mother's anklet around his forehead as a good luck charm. "I put this on after she passed away two years ago. I get inspired by  this," said the lifter who managed a total of 351 kg (156kg + 195kg) in the Commonwealth Championships last year.

The Indian was locked in a close battle with Opeloge, who ended with a total of 331kg (151kg + 180kg). Both the lifters opted for 191kg as their final clean and jerk lift and both of them failed but Rahul clinched the top prize owing to Opeloge's failed second attempt at a 188kg lift.

"This is the most important medal of my career," said the CWG debutant, whose father R Madhu was also a national level weightlifter.

Had Opologe managed a good final lift, Rahul would have ended with a silver as he had already fouled his third attempt.

Earlier, it was a fascinating contest of one-upmanship between Sathish and eventual silver-medallist Jack Oliver of England in the snatch competition. His wobbly legs are not yet back to full strength due to the quadriceps injury though.

"I was in so much pain that even sitting was very painful for me. Everyone took care of me, gave me hope but I was not very confident. I had not trained that hard and my body was not at its best, how could I hope for a medal?" said the Tamil Nadu lifter.

Satish had the last laugh quite comfortably in clean and jerk after Oliver failed two attempts of 171kg and settled for a total of 312kg (145kg + 167kg). The bronze medal went to Australian showman Francois Etoundi, who lifted 305kg (136kg + 169kg) and collapsed clutching his injured shoulder after his final lift.

At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Sathish won the gold medal with 149kg snatch and 179kg clean and jerk lifts, totalling 328kg. His lift of 149kg in snatch continues to be the Games record.

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