An Indian teen weightlifter overcame muscle cramps to win gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
With Jeremy Lalrinnunga’s victory, India earned its fifth and second gold medals at the Birmingham Games.
“It seems like I’m in another world now, living a dream,” Lalrinnunga said after his victory. “It’s my first major senior competition since the 2018 Youth Olympics.”
On Sunday, the 19-year-old from the north-eastern Indian state of Mizoram competed in the men’s 67kg weightlifting final.
Lalrinnunga began with a carefree lift of 136kg, which he improved on by successfully lifting 140kgs in his next attempt – a Games record. He then lifted 160kg in the clean and jerk category for 300kg – yet another record. Hours later, 20-year-old Achinta Sheuli won gold in the 73kg weightlifting category, giving India its sixth medal of the Games. Weightlifters Mirabai Chanu and Bindyarani Devi won gold, Bindyarani Devi and Sanket Sargar won silver, and Gururaja Poojary won bronze.
However, news of Lalrinnunga’s victory, who had suffered back and knee injuries since the Commonwealth Games in December 2021, has brought great joy to India, with thousands of people taking to social media to celebrate and congratulate him.
The young athlete seen grimacing in pain during one of the lifts revealed on Sunday that his front and inner thigh muscles had cramped during the competition.
“I never watched the other lifts because they were so painful,” he said after winning gold. “I asked the coach, crying, ‘Did I get a medal?’ Coach [Vijay Sharma] sir assured me, ‘We have the gold,’ which calmed my nerves.”
On Twitter, he announced his victory: “Lifting three tons over my shoulder would not have been possible without the support of my country. This is just the tip of the iceberg!”
Jeremy Lalrinnunga Early Life
Lalrinnunga was born in 2002 in Mizoram’s Aizawl town to a junior national champion boxer, Lalneihtluanga.
His father told BBC Hindi’s Pradeep Kumar that an eight-year-old Lalrinnunga would be taken to a sports academy near his home to box. Boxing was Lalrinnunga’s “first love,” but he switched to weightlifting after seeing classmates train for the sport at the academy.
He began weightlifting for fun as a child and was even named the academy’s most disciplined athlete. Athletes from the Army Sports Institute spotted him in January 2012. (ASI). With their encouragement, he quickly joined the Boys Sports Company at the ASI in Pune city and began specialized weightlifting training.
“I still box in the ring and enjoy it, but after seeing my friends’ passions, I chose weightlifting,” he Says.
His family struggled to fund Lalrinnunga’s education, but they did their best to pool resources and seek assistance from those around them.
According to his neighbor K Jwala, everyone who knew the athlete had high hopes for him.
Jeremy Lalrinnunga Achievments
Lalrinnunga won silver in the 56kg category at the World Youth Championships in 2016. He won gold at the Commonwealth Junior Championships in 2017.
His most recent victory came in 2018, when he took gold at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina. It was a first for an Indian athlete, but his family in Aizawl had missed the historic moment due to internet problems. This Sunday, however, the entire family witnessed the teen make history in Birmingham by watching his event live on television.
“We are grateful to our friends and relatives, as well as the entire nation,” his father told BBC Hindi after the victory. “God has compassion on our family, and I pray that Jeremy will do even better in the days ahead.”
Lalrinnunga’s room at home is decorated with his medals, which his family proudly displays to visitors. Like many boys his age, his mother claims that he enjoys traveling and the chicken curry she prepares for him.
Following his victory in Birmingham, the teen will now focus on the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Due to a knee injury, he did not qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year. The young athlete intends to compete in the 73kg weight class at the 2024 Olympics.
“I now understand that it is on a different level. I still have a lot to work on, and the most difficult part is gaining weight. If everything goes well and I stay injury-free, I should be able to compete in the Olympics in Paris “He stated.