Manu Bhaker, Jeremy Lalrinnunga clinch golds at Youth Olympics
Manu Bhaker hits bullseye soon after weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga wins India's first Youth Olympics gold
India's next generation of athletes scripted history not once but twice in the space of 24 hours as weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga and shooter Manu Bhaker picked up the country's maiden set of gold medals in the Youth Olympics here yesterday. Lalrinnunga, 15, shattered the national record in the men's 62kg category to claim the top honours and announce his arrival at the big stage. Bhaker, on the other hand, rediscovered the form that made her a sensation in the women's 10m air pistol event.
Lalrinnunga, who is also a world youth silver-medallist, lifted a total of 274kg (124kg+150kg) to finish on top in the Argentine capital on Monday night, which was early Tuesday morning in India. "I am feeling really happy that I won the gold medal here," Lalrinnunga said. "It's a sport that involves strength and that's the reason why I love it," he added.
India's Jeremy Lalrinnunga competes in the 62kg category at Buenos Aires, Argentina on Monday. Pic/PTI
Bhaker, 16, shot 236.5 to finish on top of the podium yesterday, making up for the heartbreak at the Asian Games in Indonesia and the World Championship where she could not live up to her billing. "This is an important win for me. It will be a morale booster [after the Asian Games disappointment] as I look forward with an aim to bring home more laurels," Bhaker said.
Mizo sensation Lalrinnunga, who will turn 16 on October 26, is the son of a former boxer, Lalneihtluanga, who has seven national-level gold medals to his credit. Lalrinnunga was himself an aspiring boxer before he shifted to weightlifting on the advice of coaches and was picked up by the Army Sports Institute scouts in 2011 at the age of eight.
Yesterday, Bhaker began the eight-woman final with a 10.0 and followed it up with a 10.1 and 10.4. She led the Stage 1 with 99.3 after a sequence that included seven scores of 10 and above. Two 9.8 in the beginning of second stage (elimination) were followed by a 10.1 and 9.9, helping her maintain the lead over Thailand's Kanyakorn Hirunphoem by some distance.
The World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medallist extended her domination in the following shots and looked to be on course for the yellow metal. She slipped once to the second place but quickly regained the top position.
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