NEW DELHI: From stitching and embroidering to augment his family’s income to breaking into the CWG-bound weightlifting squad, a young Achinta Sheuli realised a father’s last wish and an elder brother’s unfulfilled dreams to win India’s third gold medal at the Birmingham CWG on Sunday night by lifting a sensational 313kg overall for a Games record in the men’s 73kg division at the NEC arena in Solihull.
The 20-year-old from West Bengal’s Deulpur village in Howrah district twice bettered the Games record in both the snatch and clean & jerk and then finished with a record total lift of 313kg to make a memorable debut on the CWG stage. Achinta lifted an impressive 10kg more than his nearest rival, Malaysian Erry Hidayat Muhammad, to join his idol Mirabai Chanu (gold, women’s 49kg) and his fellow teammate and a close friend, Jeremy Lalrinnunga (gold, men’s 67kg), on top of the podium in Birmingham.
Achinta went on a record-breaking spree with his powerful lifts off the floor, which was complimented by his open chest stance and a classic arm extension, even as his opponents struggled to close in on the victory margin. He perfected the snatch round with lifts of 137kg, 140kg and 143kg, with his final two lifts shattering the previous Games record. In the process, he also equalled his personal best lift of 143kg, achieved during his gold-winning triumph at the Commonwealth senior championships in Tashkent in December last.
The former junior world championships silver medallist headed into the clean & jerk round with a five kg advantage over his Malaysian rival and started the proceedings with another Games record lift of 166kg to put himself in the medal contention. By this time, Achinta had already secured the CWG record for lifting the total weight of 309kg (143kg+166kg). He went for an ambitious 170kg in his second attempt, but faltered in his bid. The Indian, however, came back strongly to raise the barbell to 170kg to create the Games record in overall lift (313kg).
Achinta Sheuli bags #TeamIndia’s third 🥇 at @birminghamcg22 👏🎆All three gold medals so far have been won by our… https://t.co/9Zw80JSvQI— Team India (@WeAreTeamIndia) 1659298750000
Muhammad, who had a best lift of 138kg in snatch, and another 165kg in his first attempt in the clean & jerk, was left with no other choice but to go all-out in his second and third attempts to reduce the big gap of 10kg between him and Achinta. The Malaysian went for a 176kg lift in his final two attempts, but couldn’t lift the barbell on both occasions to finish second with an overall effort of 303kg (138kg+165kg). Canada’s Shad Darsigny won the bronze with a total lift of 298kg (135kg+163kg).
For Achinta, it was more of a necessity to win a CWG medal than satisfying his personal sporting ambitions. As has been the case with a majority of Indian sportspersons, it was the Bengal lifter’s desperation to pull his family out of their financial misery with the prize money and a possible government job he expects from the state government as reward for his medal-winning show.
Elated by the spectacular performance of Achinta Sheuli at #CWG2022.Heartiest congratulations on clinching a gold… https://t.co/opzV3MZBWY— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) 1659324384000
The CWG success also allowed Achinta to repay the faith shown in him by his elder brother Alok, who sacrificed his fledgling weightlifting career to look after the family following the untimely death of their father, Jagat, due to a heart attack in 2013. Jagat was a rickshaw-puller and a part-time labourer, whose income wasn’t sufficient to feed the family of four and to fund Alok’s food, protein and equipment needs required in a sport of weightlifting. Her mother, Purnima Sheuli, took to stitching and embroidery after his husband’s death while Alok joined a local gym as a trainer.
Achinta helped his mother with her embroidery work and delivering orders, while accompanying his brother to the gym for casual workout sessions. Alok saw a spark in Achinta and enrolled him in his gym as a member, only to later introduce him to weightlifting to realise his unfulfilled dreams.
Before our contingent left for the Commonwealth Games, I had interacted with Achinta Sheuli. We had discussed the s… https://t.co/51dFpUyy0w— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1659321320000
“In 2013 when my father passed away, my brother left the game to support our family. I draw my inspiration from him. He pushed me through my limits to pursue the sport as a serious career option. I have worked hard for this medal. A lot of sacrifices of my brother, mother, my coach and the Army have gone into this medal,” Achinta said after the win.
Achinta won his first senior-level international medal – a gold – at the Commonwealth Championships in 2019. He, however, rose to prominence last year after winning the Worlds junior silver and a Commonwealth championships gold to qualify for the CWG. “I wish to dedicate this medal to my late father, my brother and my coach Vijay Sharma who slaps me if I commit a mistake and keeps scolding me like I’m his own child,” he added.