Gold Coast: Weightlifter P Gururaja opened India’s medal account on the first competition day of the 21st Commonwealth Games, claiming a silver in the men’s 56kg category here today. The 25-year-old Gururaja equalled his personal best of 249kg (111+138) to finish second in a field where Malaysia’s three-time Commonwealth Championships medallist Muhammad Izhar Ahmed (117+144) broke the Games record for snatch and overall lift.
Gururaja was third after snatch, pulling off a best of 111kg after two good lifts before surviving a few nervy moments in clean and jerk. The Indian failed in his first two attempts before managing a good lift off his last chance to zoom to the top half of the table. Ahmed, meanwhile, bettered his compatriot Hamizan Amirul Ibrahim’s snatch record of 116kg, created in 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. He then broke the overall Games record, which was also in the name of Ibrahim.
The third position was taken by Sri Lanka’s Lakmal Chaturanga (114+134). Gururaja, a low-ranking Indian Air Force employee, is a quintessential Indian sports story of immense hardships and just a tiny bit of luck. Son of a truck driver, Gururaja had aspired to be a wrestler for the longest time before being pushed into weightlifting by a watchful coach who saw potential in him.