Weightlifter Venkata Rahul Ragala became India’s first-ever gold medallist in the 85 kg at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, becoming the country’s fourth gold medal winner on day three of the games.
In 2014, Ragala had become the country’s first Junior Olympics medallist in weightlifting, winning silver in the 77 kg-category. He had made his mark earlier at the Commonwealth Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships in 2013, winning two golds in Malaysia as a 17-year-old.
Born in the town of Stuartpuram in the Guntur district, Rahul was trained by his father, Madhu, a weightlifter himself. His younger brother, Varun, is a weightlifter and also a Commonwealth Youth champion as well.
The 21-year-old failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio but won the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships the next year.
Gold quest in Gold Coast
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In the Championships, also held at Gold Coast, Rahul broke the overall as well as the individual national record for ‘snatch’ as well as ‘clean and jerk’ sections. At that competition, Rahul had lifted a total of 351 kg (156 in the snatch, followed by 195 in the clean and jerk). He followed that up with an ninth placed-finish at the World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim late last year.
At the worlds, Rahul had first successfully attempted 150 kg in the snatch, before botching up lifts of 154 and 157 kg in subsequent attempts. He followed that up with a 191 in the clean and jerk, finishing with an overall tally of 341, 17 kgs behind the eventual bronze medallists.
He went into the joint lead in the snatch section with his final attempt of 151 kg, but appeared to have hurt his knee, after his first clean and jerk attempt of 182. He followed that up with a successful 187, but faltered at 191. That was nonetheless enough to give him gold with a tally of 338 kg.