For over a year, weightlifter Gururaja Poojary did not go to his home in Udupi district in Karnataka, instead deciding to stay at the national camp in Patiala, preparing for his entry into a new weight division, shifting to an Olympic weight category for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
The 27-year-old Junior Warrant Officer (JWO) in India Air Force had got married in May 2021 but decided to leave his wife with his parents in Karnataka so that he can concentrate on his career.
All those sacrifices paid dividends as Gururaja on Saturday captured a bronze medal in the men’s 61kg weight division at the Commonwealth Games 2022, the first medal in this weight class according to him.
The Karnataka lifter made it a productive morning session for India at the weightlifting arena in Birmingham, winning the country’s second medal of the day at the Commonwealth Games here on Saturday. Sanket Mahadev Sargar had earlier opened India’s medal account on the second day of competition by winning a silver medal in the men’s 55kg division.
Gururaja came up with the best effort in his last attempt in the men’s 61kg division, improving on his personal best by lifting 151 in his third attempt in clean and jerk. He had the best effort of 118 in the snatch, giving him an aggregate of 269kg. He finished behind Malaysia’s Muhamad Aznil Bin Bidin, who lifted 127 in snatch and 158 in clean and jerk for a total of 285, which is a new Games Record.
Morea Baru of Papua New Guinea took silver with a total of 272 (121 in snatch and 152 in clean and jerk, finishing well clear of Gururaja, who finished just one kg ahead of Youri Simard of Canada, who had an aggregate of 268.
Having fulfilled his wish, Gururaja was ecstatic with his performance in the men’s 61kg.
“The decision not to go home and stay at the national camp at NIS Patiala for over a year has paid. I have made many sacrifices. All those have paid off today as I won another medal for the country.” said Gururaja after his event.
He said he was happy with his performance as he had done the same weights during practice.
“I had done the same 118 kg in snatch in practice and also did it 152kg in clean and jerk. So, I am happy because I managed to give my best,” said Gururaja.
He said he was hampered by a wrist injury and also had some fever for a couple of days while in India. “I had a slight fever before I left for Birmingham and though it got cured soon after, the weekends.
Gururaja said he will take rest for the next few weeks and rehabilitate his injured wrist.