The city of Vellore can lift the heaviest of weights for a stunning show of gold. Recently, they built a mammoth temple out there, using about 1500 kilograms of gold, perhaps the largest quantity of the precious metal hauled up for building a structure in the world.
Late on Sunday in Glasgow, where the humble red sandstone pervades every other material used for tenements, Vellore boy Sathishkumar Sivalingham, lifted a total of 328 kg to clinch the 77kg gold in India’s much-vaunted category, with his senior teammate Ravi Kumar coming second.
His pulse-raising 149kg attempt in snatch broke the Commonwealth Games record, and the sheer guttural cry when he went 7kg above his nearest rival (Ravi had 142), belied what was a power lift as smooth in its execution from ground to air as a jumbo Boeing’s takeoff.
Sathish had snatched 150kg in training, but hadn’t fancied breaking the Games record.
His 179 for the clean & jerk, though, was staggering drama. Australian Farancois Etoundi, braided hair and a brute smile bobbing above that gold-green muscled torso mass, had entered the fray, pulling off a good lift of 177 rather unexpectedly.
That prompted India’s gold medal favourite and Olympian Ravi Kumar to recalibrate his own second attempt after a successful 175 to 185. He didn’t look too convincing, and headed back into the wings clutching his back.
The Malaysian lifter had tried in vain to make this a four-way race, but it was essentially an all-India contest. Like, it’s been at the Patiala national camp for the last two years.
Sathish’s 178 though seeming like it would pass muster after he held the bar above his head, hadn’t pleased the judges and it was declared a No Lift, as the stunned Indian looked to gather his wits and go for the second chance.
Not quite with Hulk-ish fury as his snatch, but with an audible surge of power into his veins, Sathish cleaned at the cue of ‘kheench’ from his coach, and looked like a ton of air was filled into his jowl, as he made good the winning lift.
The signature celebration was lifting both hands like an angry hero in an action film, and thumping the chest with both palms – eyes wide and glaring all throughout.
He’d quit the 185kg, and Ravi would go onto settle for 175 (total of 317kg) and a silver, but Sathish won over a crowd that had sighed with him when the 178 attempt was shot down.
Son of a weightlifter, who needed to heave the barbells to secure an army job through sports quota, Sathish was a product of both his father’s vocation and of being born in the weightlifting-crazy village of Satuvchari where the continued…