Greater Noida: Hosts India are expected to win a bagful of medals despite the absence of star lifters, including Mirabai Chanu, when the Commonwealth Championships get underway here on Wednesday.
The Commonwealth tournaments — Commonwealth Games and the Commonwealth Championships — are a happy hunting ground for Indian weightlifters, who make the most of the absence of traditional powerhouses like China and North Korea.
Since the 2011 edition of the Commonwealth Championships, India have finished as the best-performing nation every time barring in 2013 and 2021.
In the last edition, Indian lifters reigned supreme, bringing back a haul of 16 medals – the most by a country in 2021 – but lost the top spot to Canada owing to an inferior gold medal tally.
And this year, the lifters will be keen to rectify the mistake, especially with the home crowd cheering them on.
Despite the absence of Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Mirabai — the biggest name in Indian weightlifting, Youth Olympic champion Jeremy Lalrinnunga, CWG medallists Achinta Sheuli, Bindyarai Devi and Sanket Sargar due to various reasons, the 20-member squad is more than capable of podium finishes.
Several of the lifters in the squad tasted success in 2021 and stood on the podium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Former Asian champion in the 45kg weight class Jhilli Dalabehera and 2022 junior World Championships silver medallist Gyaneshwari Yadav will be competing in the 49kg category in the absence of Mirabai.
Popy Hazarika (59kg) and the CWG bronze-winning duo of Harjinder Kaur (71kg) and Lovepreet Singh (109kg) would like to change the shade of their medals from silver into golds.
Two-time champion Ajay Singh, on the other hand, would like to complete a hat-trick of gold medals.
Asian Games-bound national champion N Ajith (73kg) would be keen to put up a good performance in an international event in the absence of his rival Sheuli, who
competes in the same weight class.
India is hosting the tournament for the second time, having successfully organised it in Pune in 2015.
As many as 253 weightlifters, including 52 Indians, will be competing across the senior, junior and youth categories in the five-day tournament.
The tournament, which will take place at the Gautam Budh University, will also serve as a test run for the new venue ahead of the more prestigious AWF Asian Junior and Youth Weightlifting championship, slated to begin later this month.
Women: Komal Kohar (45kg), Jhilli Dalabehera (49kg), Gyaneshwari Yadav (49kg), Shrabani Das (55kg), Popy Hazarika (59kg), Nirupama Devi (64kg), S Pallavi (64kg), Harjinder Kaur (71kg), Vanshita Verma (81kg), Purnima Pandey (+87kg).
Men: Mukund Aher (55kg), T Madhavan (67kg), Shubham Todkar (61kg), N Ajith (73kg), Ajay Singh (81kg), Amarjit Guru (89kg), Vishwakarma Jagdish (96kg), Harshad Wadekar (96kg), Harcharan Singh (102kg), Lovepreet Singh (109kg).