Incheon: After successfully burying the ghosts of doping menace at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games with an impressive show, Indian weightlifters would look to keep their new-found cleaner image intact while aiming for a rich medal when their campaign begins at the 17th Asian Games, here on Friday.
Indian lifters brought home as many as 12 medals from Scotland but what made a bigger news was that none of the athletes were found to have tested positive during the multi-sporting tournament, thereby purging the sins related to past doping controversies.
Seven medallists from the Commonwealth Games have made it to the 10-member Indian squad for the Asiad, where the event will commence from tomorrow and go on till September 26 with at least two titles to be decided everyday.
Five men and as many women lifters will represent India at the mega-tournament. Of the 10 lifters who have made the cut in the Asian Games squad, nine of them were part of the Indian contingent at the Commonwealth Games.
Kavita Devi (women's 85kg) is the lone lifter who did not go to Glasgow. Seven of these 10 athletes had bagged medals there, which included three yellow metals.
Tomorrow's events -- women's 48kg and men's 56kg -- will see Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu and Sukhen Dey competing in the respective women's and men's categories. Both of them had pocketed the yellow metal at the Commonwealth Games.
Come tomorrow, the expectations will be sky high when these two lifters take the field. However, national women's team coach Hansa Sharma had already warned that the standard of competition would be much higher in the Asian Games as compared to CWG.
"The standard of competition will be very high. Most weightlifters who compete at the Asiad are Olympic prospects. So, talking realistically, it is going to be really tough for our lifters. But we are leaving no stone unturned as far as training is concerned," Sharma had said.
"A lifter takes at least three months to recover after a competition. Between CWG and Asiad, there was only a little over a month's gap. So it is an uphill task at hand with countries like China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Kazakhstan taking part in this tournament," Sharma added.
Besides Sanjita and Sukhen, Sathish Sivalingam (men's 77kg) was the other lifter to have bagged gold at the CWG. He would be another prospect to watch out for when his event takes place on September 23. Sivalingam had pipped compatriot and more experienced K Ravi Kumar at Glasgow for gold and it would be interesting to see if he could once again finish higher than his senior, here as well. For the Indian fans though, it would be enough if both the lifters could make it to the podium.
Vikas Thakur (men's 85kg) and Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (women's 48kg) had won a silver each at CWG, while Punam Yadav settled for a bronze in the women's 63kg, even as Vandana Gupta missed it by a whisker in the same category after finishing fourth. Only three members from the current squad were part of the weightlifting contingent at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, from where India returned empty handed.
While Ravi Kumar was fifth in men's 69kg category, Sukhen finished a poor 10th in men's 56kg division and Rustam Sarang ended at ninth position in men's 62kg. India would certainly be looking to put behind the Guangzhou disappointment with Ravi, Sukhen and Sarang keen to better their respective performances. The Indian women's squad wears an all new look this time around and the team would be hoping to create history.
Men: (62kg), Sathish Sivalingam, K Ravi Kumar (both 77kg) and Vikas Thakur (85kg).
Women: Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (both 48kg), Punam Yadav, Vandana Gupta (both 63kg) and Kavita Devi (75kg).