Weightlifters Soniya, Ravi Kumar ready to face the challenge in London Olympics; para-athlete shot-putter in doping net

After a gap of eight years, India will be back in the weightlifting competitions at the Olympic Games, writes The Hindu, adding that shaking off the taint of doping that dogged Indian weightlifting for more than a decade, N. Soniya Chanu (48kg women) and K. Ravi Kumar (69kg men) are ready to face the challenge in London.

“Weightlifting had saved India’s blushes in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where Karnam Malleswari claimed the women’s 69kg bronze medal. Four years later, the trio of Malleswari, Kunjarani Devi and Sanamacha Chanu failed to make an impression in Athens. The 2004 Olympics provided the only instance where Indian competitors were caught for doping at the Games. Lifters Chanu and Pratima Kumari were sent home in disgrace as the dope-net closed in on them. Monika Devi’s last-minute exclusion from the Beijing-bound squad because of doping set the stage for a raging controversy four years ago. The scourge of drugs in Indian weightlifting continued well into 2010,” says the report, adding that the 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Soniya has a chance to earn a respectable finish.

“There is some talk of even a medal. But it will depend on the entries from other countries, especially China. Since a country can only enter four women across seven weight categories, it is yet uncertain where all the top Chinese lifters will figure. A lift of 171kg had brought Soniya the sixth place in the Paris world championships last year. She had aggregated 175kg (through a four kg hike in clean and jerk) to end up fourth in the Asian championships in April last.”

Meanwhile, with little over two weeks left for the Olympics, Indian shuttler V Diju said there was no time for experimentation and he along with partner Jwala Gutta would stick to the tried and tested strategy at the big event.

Diju and Jwala, ranked 13 in the world, haver done consistently well in the last few years and are hopeful of putting up a good show in the marquee event. "My preparations are very good. We are practicing under an Indonesian coach at Gachibowli in Hyderabad. I don't have a special strategy for the Olympics. Whatever we were doing earlier, we are continuing the same," Diju said, according to a report in The Tribune.

Diju and Jwala were the runners-up at Indian Open at Hyderabad in 2009. The duo also reached the final in World Super Series Masters final in Malaysia the same year. Riding on these performances, the duo had reached the career-best ranking of world number six in August, 2010.

According to media reports, para-athlete shot-putter Hitesh Sachdeva has been banned from competing in the London Paralympics after being caught for doping. He had qualified for London Paralympics in the Malaysia Paralympics Championships in Kuala Lumpur in April. The 'A' sample of Sachdeva, a totally blind Uttar Pradesh shot-putter, was found to contain banned steroid nandrolone.
The test was done here last week. He has been provisionally suspended and will not take part in the London Paralympic Games to be held from August 29 to September 9.