Ganesh Mali, the 21-year-old from Kurundwad village in Kolhapur who won a weightlifting bronze in the Commonwealth Games, started training for the sport in 2006 when he was 12. The economic condition of the family however wasn’t good enough that Patil could solely concentrate on the sport. His father Chandrakant Mali, a daily wage worker, said Ganesh laboured in the fields on weekends and earned money so that he could spend them on his diet and other necessities.
Since Friday morning when Ganesh won a bronze medal in the 56 kg weight category, there has been a stream of visitors to the Mali household. Chandrakant said when he saw his son being awarded with a medal, he felt that all the hard work by Ganesh had finally paid off
“He started going to the gym at 12 with his elder cousin who were in the sport as well. As the family isn’t well off, we couldn’t afford the expenses. We also needed him to work so that the money required to sustain the family kept coming. On weekends, Ganesh used to work in the farm, bring home money and then go for the training in the evenings,” said the father.
Mali’s local coach Pradeep Patil, who trained him from 2006-2013, described Ganesh as a “hardworking, determined boy.” Pradeep, who has trained many youths in weightlifting, added that he wouldn’t have been surprised had Ganesh bagged a gold.
“He was 12 when his cousin brought him to my gym. I had trained his cousins and they were doing well at the state and national level. Although Ganesh belongs to a poor family, he showed admirable determination and consistency in performance. Soon he was winning medals in school, district and state level competitions. In 2013, the Indian Air Force recruited him in the sports quota. He later participated and performed well in the National Senior and hence was selected in the national team,” said Patil.
ALL EYES NOW ON TWO OTHER KURUNDWAD LADS
Apart from Ganesh Patil, two other boys from Kurundwad village who trained with him at the Hercules Gym are also part of the weightlifting team and will perform in next week’s event. Pradeep Pawar, the coach, said his wards Omkar Otari and Chandrakant alias Mahesh Mali will compete in 69 and 94 kg weight group. “Our aim is to produce quality weightlifters who will represent Maharashtra and India in international platforms. We have trained several local boys who then went on to play at the state and national level. This is however first time our boy has won a medal in an international competition,” said Patil adding that it’s a matter of great pride for a village with a population of around 20,000.
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