Former Olympic weightlifting ace Karnam Malleswari, who became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal — bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the 69kg, does not want the current Indian weightlifting contingent comprising — Katula Ravi Kumar (69 kg men) and Ngangbam Soniya Chanu (48kg women) to succumb to medal hopes at the London Games.
“Every athlete aims to win a medal when he/she enters any competition and the Olympics is no different. I just want the team to go and give it their best shot. If the athlete has performed to the best of his ability and with a bit of luck on his side, results will follow. If they bother too much about winning a medal, the concentration will waiver,” Malleswari, who finished behind gold medalist Lin Weining of China and silver winner Erzsébet Márkus-Peresztegi of Hungary at the Sydney Games, told Sunday MiD DAY.
The Arjuna awardee said she regrets missing that gold in Sydney till date. “I was confident that I could have easily won gold in Sydney, but that day was not mine. In pursuit of creating a new Olympic record, I missed the gold medal and had to settle for a bronze,” said the former two-time (1993 and 1994) world champion.
Malleswari (37) though was proud to have won India’s only medal in Sydney. “I was disheartened to have missed out on the gold medal, but later my bronze medal turned out to be no less than gold medal as it was India’s only medal at that Games. I felt proud seeing the tri-colour hoisted at the venue following my effort,” added the current General Manager with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in Shimla.
Malleswari said watching three-time gold medal winner weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu (1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta) of Turkey train remains one of her most memorable Olympic moments. “Suleymanoglu was my idol and everyday I used to wait at the Olympic Village’s training area just to watch him. His techniques were the best that I have ever witnessed,” she signed off.