Jeremy claims India's first Youth Olympics gold

Jeremy Lalrinnunga. (Image source: Twitter/Rathore)

Weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga scripted history by winning India’s maiden gold medal at the Youth Olympics, claiming the top honours in the men’s 62kg category here.

The 15-year-old from Aizwal, who is also a world youth silver-medallist, lifted a total of 274kg (124kg +150kg) to finish on top in the Argentine capital on Monday night.

The silver medal went to Turkey’s Toptas Caner, who lifted 263 kg (122kg+141kg), while Colombia’s Villar Estiven Jose took the bronze with an effort of 260 kg (115kg+143kg).

The Mizo sensation, who will turn 16 on October 26, is being touted as the next big thing in Indian weightlifting.

“Lalrinnunga’s father, Lalneihtluanga, is a former boxer who has seven national-level gold medals to his credit,” said N Thangchungnunga, the president of the Mizoram Weightlifting Association.

Lalrinnunga was himself an aspiring boxer before he shifted to weightlifting on the advice of coaches and was picked up by the Army Sports Institute scouts in 2011 at the age of 8.

“A new weightlifting academy had opened in my village. The moment I saw it I wanted to try out the sport. I used to do boxing when I was younger but when I tried weightlifting I loved it. It’s a sport that involves strength and that is the reason I love it,” Lalrinnunga said. The teenager had to recover from a bout of chicken pox before he could gun for gold in Argentina.

“I suffered from chicken pox in May so I had to gain back my strength for 62kg. My focus was on the Youth Olympics so I had to work very hard to recover and start training. I learned a lot of new techniques in the process. We focused mainly on strength training and perfecting the technique,” Jeremy said.

His father is currently employed with Mizoram’s Public Works department.

Earlier this year, Lalrinnunga claimed a silver (youth) and a bronze (junior) in the Asian Championships, smashing two national records in the process.

His maiden gold means that India are set to record their best ever performance at the Youth Olympics.

The country has already won four medals with Tushar Mane and Mehuli Ghosh bagging a silver each in 10m rifle shooting while Thangjam Tababi Devi won India’s first medal in judo by finishing second in the 44kg category.

India won just two medals -- a silver and a bronze -- in the last Youth Olympics in 2014 in Nanjing in China. In the inaugural 2010 edition in Singapore, India had six silver and a couple of bronze medals.

While Lalrinnunga made the nation proud, weightlifter Sneha Soren could not finish on the podium in the women’s 48kg category, signing off fifth.

In swimming, Srihari Nataraj, who competed in the 100m backstroke final despite being a reserve, finished sixth in 56.12 seconds.

In table tennis, Archana Kamath entered the quarterfinals after beating Hong Kong’s Lee Ka Yee 4-2 (14-12, 14-12, 9-11, 8-11, 12-10, 15-13) in the last 16.

Manav Thakkar though crashed out after losing 1-4 to Japan’s Tomokazo Harimoto in the men’s pre-quarterfinals.

It was a big win for India in hockey as the team thrashed Austria 9-1. Rising badminton sensation Lakshya Sen had it tough against Danylo Bosniuk in the first game before he regained his composure to beat the Ukrainian 23-21, 21-8.

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Jeremy claims India's first Youth Olympics gold

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