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- CWG 2018: Once a diver, debutant Deepak Lather wins weightlifting bronze
CWG 2018: Once a diver, debutant Deepak Lather wins weightlifting bronze
Deepak Lather has extended India’s medal tally at the 2018 Commonwealth Games to four by winning bronze in the men’s 69kg event. In his first appearance at the quadrennial games, the 18-year-old from the village of Shadipur in Haryana – who was once enrolled at Pune’s Army Sports Institute as a diver – finished with a combined effort of 295kg (136 in snatch and 159 in clean & jerk) at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on Friday.
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Lather, who two years ago broke the Commonwealth Youth Games record in Samoa, moved into medal contention with lifts of 132kg and 136kg in the snatch event, but slipped to level second after failing to lift 138kg in his third attempt. In the clean & jerk, a section in which there were six lifters with higher weights, the youngster produced a personal best of 159kg, bettering his previous best of 157, but failed to lift 162 in his third attempt.
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Marginally in line for a bronze, the prize for India was confirmed when Samoa’s Vaipova Ioane failed to seal bronze. It is an outstanding result from the teenager, who entered his maiden Commonwealth Games with plenty of expectation but who was competing with some far more experienced weightlifters.
Winning gold in the 69kg event was Gareth Evans of Wales with a total lift of 299kg (136 in snatch, 163 in clean & jerk) followed by Sri Lanka’s Indika Dissanayake with 297 (137 in snatch, 160 in clean & jerk).
Born into a family of farmers, Deepak took to weightlifting at the age of nine when his father Bijender noticed his strength while ploughing the field and lifting burlap sacks of fodder onto his back. In 2008, he impressed during a series of trials conducted across Haryana by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and was chosen to travel to Pune where, interestingly, he was trained as a diver. As it turned out, Deepak was disinterested in diving and found his calling when he was re-assigned to be a weightlifter.
The hard work began to pay off after a slow start when in 2015 he won the youth (Under-17) 62kg category at the Commonwealth Championships, a silver medal at the Asian Youth Championships and became the youngest Indian weightlifter to enter the World Championships. In 2016, at the age of 15, Deepak became the youngest Indian to win the national championship when he smashed the country’s long-standing 62kg snatch record and finished with a total of 267kg.
At the Commonwealth Games Championships in 2017, Deepak won gold in the 69kg category and bronze in the senior men’s section to heighten expectations at the CWG. As it continues to be proven, diving’s loss has become weightlifting’s gain.
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