2017 World Championship gold-medallist Mirabai Chanu will lead a 12-member Indian team in the upcoming Asian Weightlifting Championship starting from April 18 in Ningbo, China.
The Asian Championship is one of the qualifying events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
India had fielded its junior team at the previous qualifiers, the World Championship in November last year, as the senior weightlifters had opted to continue their rehabilitation programme.
The China-bound squad has four women and eight men, including Commonwealth Games and Youth Olympics gold medallists Sathish Sivalingam and Jeremy Lalrinnunga respectively.
CWG gold medallist R V Rahul has been kept in reserve and a call will be taken on his participation in the next five days.
Two-time Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Sanjita Chanu, whose provisional suspension imposed on her for failing a dope test in 2017 was lifted by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) in January, will not be competing in the tournament.
“Sanjita did not join the camp, she is still in Manipur. She has missed out on a lot of training because of her case, so she has requested to join the camp later,” national coach Vijay Sharma told PTI from Patiala.
India’s brightest medal prospect, Mirabai had made a strong comeback from a lower back injury that had kept her out of action for nearly nine months. The 24-year-old Manipuri had lifted 82 kg in snatch and 110 kg in clean and jerk to clinch the gold medal at the EGAT Cup in February in her new weight category of 49kg.
“Mira has recovered completely and is training well. She has set the target of breaking the world record of 210 kg before the Olympics, so we are working on that step-by-step. In the Asian Championship, we aim to go above the 196kg mark,” Sharma said.
“I am sure, she will be break 210kg mark before the Olympics. We have to make the target high, so that we go step by step to reach there,” he added.
Asked about India’s chances of winning medals, the head coach said, “Last time we did not win any medal but this time we should win.”
The qualification process for the 2020 Olympics is based on the performances of the weightlifters in six events over a period of 18 months out of which the four best results logged by a lifter will be considered.
“There are three semesters of six months each. The first semester of the calendar is finishing in April. Asian Championships is the second qualifying event of this semester. In the next six months, we have to participate in two events, followed by two more after that. The best four results out of the six will be considered,” Sharma explained.
The IWF had rejigged the weight categories for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last year, and asked how the Indian weightlifters had adapted to the change, Sharma said: “All the lifters are set in their new weight categories, they are comfortable now. They participated in the EGAT Cup under the new categories. Our aim is to keep improving our total at every event.”
Men: Sathish Sivalingam (81 kg), Vikas Thakur (96 kg), Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg), Gurdeep Singh (+101 kg), M Raja (61 kg), Pradeep Singh (102 kg), Achinta Sheuli (73 kg), Ajay Singh (81 kg).
Reserve: RV Rahul.
Women: Mirabai Chanu (49 kg), Jhilli Dalabehera (55 kg), Swati (59kg), Rakhi Halder (64kg).