Earlier this week, young weightlifter Vikas Thakur produced the performance of his lifetime to clinch the bronze in the men’s 85 kg category. A day later on Tuesday, the effort was matched by Chandrakant Mali, who finished third in the men’s 94 kg. It took India’s medals tally in weightlifting at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to 12, four more than the tally at Delhi. Significantly, this was the first time the country — masters in light-weight categories at the CWG — had won medals in heavier classes.
Four years ago, the cloud of doping had cast a shadow over Indian weightlifting. Top lifters from the country, including S. Sunaina, Sanamacha Chanu and Pratima Kumari, were caught in the dope net. The sport hit a nadir in 2009 when the country faced a year-long ban by the international federation after six lifters tested positive in a calendar year. It was the third such instance — it had been suspended in 2004 and 2006 for similar reasons. Thankfully for the lifters, the sports ministry bailed them out just before the Delhi CWG by paying a hefty fine of Rs 3 crore to the international federation. To their credit, Indian lifters returned with eight medals in Delhi, including two golds. None of the medal winners flunked the dope test but cynicism over their performance remained.
The federation, however, has increased vigilance over the last few years. Indian lifters are among the most frequently tested athletes in the country. From monitoring the lifters’ food supplements to making them aware of the consequences of using illegal methods, the federation has done its bit and the results have been encouraging. Apart from a couple of cases, weightlifters have mostly remained clean. At Glasgow, there have been no indications of any wrongdoing by an Indian weightlifter. If that remains the case, it would go a great way in enhancing the reputation of the maligned sport in the country.