For a brief moment before his brother’s lift in the clean and jerk competition, Jerry panicked as he lost the live streaming on YouTube. His family and neighbours had gathered at their home to watch Jeremy Lalrinnunga compete at the Youth Olympics several miles away in Argentina.
But the 15-year-old from Aizawl did not panic once. Not when he committed a foul on the second attempt in snatch and later another foul on the second attempt in clean and jerk. With a total lift of 274kg (124kg in snatch and 150kg in clean and jerk) in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, Jeremy won the gold medal making him India’s first gold medallist in Youth Olympics history.
“My family told me about the YouTube stream problem but they did watch me win the medal. I am very proud that I could win the first gold medal for India. I was confident that I will win the competition. I didn’t think about medals or records and my coach said just go out there and enjoy,” Jeremy says.
On the stage, even after two fouls, Jeremy was analysing his game. He knew he had committed similar mistakes while keeping the weight down.
“I knew I had made the mistake of leaving the stage before putting my weight down but it’s okay. I have a carefree attitude and when I came for the next lift, I thought let’s do this,” he says.
The carefree attitude comes from his upbringing. Having a father who has boxed at the national level and was a junior national champion has been a boost for Jeremy and his four brothers. He was never stopped to follow sports. He would accompany his father for his boxing training and soon began training himself.
“My father was a boxer. He used to take us to his training sometimes and I picked up boxing slowly. It’s was great until I saw weightlifting,” he recalls. “There is this SYS academy in my village where a coach trains for weightlifting. I saw my friends doing it and I thought this is a game of strength and I need to do it.”
And that was the beginning of Jeremy’s weightlifting journey. In 2011, his coach Malsawma Khiangte told them about Army Sports Institute trials and the most disciplined boy will be selected.
“Our coach told Army Sports Institute trials will be conducted. We were told boys with strength and discipline would be selected. I was not disciplined but they selected me gave me 50 rupees as the most disciplined player which I still laugh about. Main to masti karta hu bas,” he laughs.
But under the bar, Jeremy is a serious competitor and he gave a glimpse of that at the World Youth Championships in 2016 where he won a silver medal in 56kg weight category. He added another silver at the 2017 Worlds and later he would win a silver and bronze at the 2018 Asian Championships.
The rapidly-improving lifter isn’t keeping a count of the medals and after pocket his biggest medal yet, he wants to spends some time in the Athletes’ Village, that too in preparation.
“City ghumenge and Olympic village mein masti karunga. I am preparing for Tokyo because I have to stay in the Village there as well. After returning, I’ll move up to 67 kg (category) and we will plan the qualifications to Tokyo Olympics. I got my first money from discipline. I think that will take me to new heights,” he says.