A total of 719 lifters – 354 men and 365 men from across the globe will flock to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the 2023 World Weightlifting Championships starting Monday.
The competition is also a mandatory event in order to be eligible to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Though the athletes are not required to register a lift compulsorily in Riyadh, they are required to mark their presence in the global event.
Making use of the above condition laid down by the International Weightlifting Federation will be India’s most accomplished weightlifter Mirabai Chanu.
The 29-year-old from Manipur, who was considered to be India’s biggest medal hope, will only compete in the weigh-in and not register a lift in the competition.
The Indian national coach Vijay Sharma has revealed that this is to keep the former world champion fit for the upcoming 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which is all set to begin just a week after the World Championships.
Chanu, who has been battling fitness issues off late, has been registered to lift a total of mere 60kg – snatch and clean & jerk combined, in the women’s 49kg D group. This is the lowest registered weight across all groups in women’s 49kg.
The only other Indian woman lifter who has travelled to Riyadh - Bindyarani Devi, has also been registered to lift only 60kg and is placed in women’s 55kg C group.
While there has been no confirmation on why Devi, who bagged a silver medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, has been registered for such a low lift, it seems likely that she would follow Chanu’s path.
The focus, thus, remains firmly in the Indian men’s section with all three of Shubham Todkar (61kg), Achinta Sheuli, and Narayan Ajith (73kg) expected to lift in Riyadh.
Todkar who has entered with 265kg is placed in Group D of his weight category. The 26-year-old though will have his task cut out with the highest placed entry in 61kg being 310kg by China’s Li Fabin.
Todkar, who was recently crowned the Commonwealth Champion with a lift of 249kg, holds a personal best of 271kg.
Sheuli and Ajith, meanwhile, will go head to head in the 73kg category. While the former has been drawn in Group D, the latter is placed in Group C.
Sheuli, who was crowned the Commonwealth Games champion last year with a lift of 313kg, is expected to take it easy in the competition. Returning from an injury he has been registered at 280kg.
Ajith, on the other hand, has entered at 305kg.
The duo, who were recently dropped from India’s Asian Games contingent are, however, slated to face a stiff challenge 11 lifters entered at 340kg and above.
Schedule for Indian weightlifters
Mirabai Chanu - women’s 49kg event on September 5 at 7.00pm IST
Shubham Todkar - men’s 61kg event on on September 6 at 7.00pm IST
Bindyarani Devi - women’s 55kg event on September 6 at 9.30pm IST
Achinta Sheuli and Narayan Ajith - men’s 73kg event on September 9 at 9.30 pm IST
The World Weightlifting Championships will be streamed live in India on The Olympic Channel.