CWG golds in pocket, Jeremy and Sheuli get set for a friendly duel - Hindustan Times
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CWG golds in pocket, Jeremy and Sheuli get set for a friendly duel

By, New Delhi
Aug 14, 2022 05:58 PM IST

The 67kg class in which Jeremy competes is no longer an Olympic category. It means the 19-year-old will move to the 73kg division, where a duel with Sheuli awaits.

As far as comparisons go, Jeremy Lalrinnunga and Achinta Sheuli have little in common. With his flowing, streaked hair and shimmering studs, Jeremy is an exuberant bundle of energy. Sheuli, conversely, is a man with shy eyes and demure mannerisms. Jeremy dishes out readymade quotes; it is hard to get much out of Sheuli. Jeremy loves English movies -- his last watch was The Batman (2022) -- while Hindi movies do the trick for Sheuli.

Jeremy Lalrinnunga with Achinta Sheuli(PTI) PREMIUM
Jeremy Lalrinnunga with Achinta Sheuli(PTI)

Still, when the two best friends step on the weightlifting board, such differences cease to matter. At the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Birmingham, the two returned with a gold apiece, having broken Games record in snatch as well as total lifts in their respective divisions.

Jeremey (67kg) lifted 300 kgs (140 kgs in snatch and 160 kgs in clean and jerk), and hours later, he was live on Instagram, broadcasting Sheuli's (73kg) event where he heaved 313 kgs (a personal best of 143 kg in snatch and 170 kg in clean and jerk).

Not surprisingly, the two youngsters are being hailed as the future of Indian men's weightlifting. "They definitely are the future. We haven't yet won a medal in men's world championships, and I feel both are good enough to end that spell," said weightlifter Sathish Sivalingam, a two-time CWG gold-medallist.

Sivalingam, who mentors the two at the national camp in Patiala, is wonderstruck by their "focus and determination".

"Jeremy last went home two years back. Achinta stayed in camp even when the makeshift roof of his mud house in Deulpur was blown away. It says a lot about their drive."

The mention of home cracks Jeremy up. He made a quick trip to Aizawal recently, where a cavalcade welcomed him at the airport. The 45-minute drive from the airport to his house took "at least 3 hours".

"I didn't expect such a welcome. It was quite overwhelming. I reached home and did a U-turn to Delhi," he laughed.

For Sheuli, the monetary benefits may finally end a lifetime of poverty. "I have seen some really bad days," the 20-year-old said. "I have waited to lift my family out of poverty. I would like to help my brother get a permanent job. I would want my mother to finally put her feet up and rest," he said.

A cheque of 20 lakh from IOA should help. The West Bengal government has also announced a reward of 5 lakh. "I'll transfer the money to my brother who has taken a loan to rebuild our mud house that could have fallen anytime. Clearly, this medal means a lot to me."

"He doesn't speak much in public, but really opens up to me," said Jeremy. "We are like brothers. We are roommates and training partners, so we talk a lot. It's a really special relationship."

That may be tested soon though. The 67kg class in which Jeremy competes is no longer an Olympic category after International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) rejigged weight classes. It means the 19-year-old will move to the 73kg division, where a duel with Sheuli awaits. The duo is already looking forward to it.

"It won't be a problem," smiles Sheuli. "It will only push each other to do better." Jeremy is equally enthusiastic. "It will be fun. We train together anyway, and now we shall compete against each other too."

Their friendship, Jeremy insists, will sail through the insecurities that accompany competition. "It is a sport, and both of us are here to win fair and square. Whoever does better will get a chance at the Olympics. Our friendship will always remain, but in sport, even if I am competing against my brothers, I go all out to win. It will be the same with Achinta."

National coach Vijay Sharma is in no mood to change Sheuli's weight class anytime soon, considering the next Olympics category is 89kgs. "A jump of 16 kgs is unrealistic. If we rush him through the gaining cycle now, he'll end up with more fat than muscle which will not yield any performance," he said.

"Both are extremely promising prospects. Whoever does better will go to the Olympics. It will only foster healthy competition between them," he added.

It won't be an easy transition to the next level, even for Sheuli who regularly competes in 73kg. For context, 11 lifters in 73kg event logged more than 313 kgs -- Sheuli's personal best -- at Tokyo Olympics. Jeremy's best effort so far is 306kgs. The immediate goal for the Indian duo is to lift "315-320kgs" regularly.

"The process of gaining weight will be gradual and will happen in consultation with the nutritionist," said coach Sharma.

"Technically, they are very good. Jeremy is a gifted talent. He picks the technique very well, but his strength is quite low. His body is very weak. Achinta is very hard working and sincere, and more consistent. It'll be interesting to see them push each other in the same weight class," the coach said.

The two, along with Olympics silver medallist Mirabai Chanu and CWG silver medallist Bindyarani Devi, may soon fly to the US for a three-week camp with strength and conditioning expert Dr Aaron Horschig, credited for addressing Chanu's shoulder imbalance.

"There are a few biomechanical issues that I want Dr Aaron to have a look at," informed Sharma. "Achinta doesn't have a major issue, but his hamstring troubles him sometimes. Jeremy has some issues with his back and knee. It is related to imbalance. His left glutes are also weak. We have identified the problem but it will be nice if an expert takes a look and puts him through a strengthening regime," the coach explained.

Once back, the contingent will dive into preparations for December's world championships in Bogota, which is also an Olympics qualifier. Jeremy versus Sheuli promises to be a year-end blockbuster.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Shantanu Srivastava is an experienced sports journalist who has worked across print and digital media. He covers cricket and Olympic sports.

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