As a young man, who had lost his father early, Achinta Sheuli, had to contribute to the family kitty by doing embroidery work in his village, two hours from Howrah in West Bengal.
On Monday, Sheuli, 20, stitched together a series of phenomenal lifts to win India’s third gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
India now has three gold, two silver and one bronze, all from the lifting arena.
Son of a rickshaw driver, Achinta was supported by an elder brother, Alok, who sacrificed his own ambitions in weightlifting and bodybuilding to help his younger brother achieve his goals.
So, It was natural that Achinta dedicated his medal and success to his brother and his family.
So far, Mirabai Chanu (49kg) and Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg) had won gold , two silver (Sanket Mahadev Sargar in 55kg and Bindiyarani in women’s 55kg) and one bronze (Poojary Gururaja in men’s 61kg).
Achinta had a best of 143kg in snatch and 170kg in Clean and Jerk for a total of 313kg in the 73 kg category at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham.
He said, “I was trying to break my personal best of 316kg but that didn’t happen today. Irrespective, I am happy with the gold. This medal will help me take my career to the next level.”
Achinta Sheuli is one of the numerous new faces in the post-COVID era. He hit the spotlight at the 2021 Commonwealth Championships in Tashkent, which were held concurrently with the World Championship. Sheuli won the gold there with a total of 316 kg. Earlier he won the World Juniors at the same venue six months in May, 2021 with 313 kg.
Achinta opened the snatch with 137 kg and then set a new CWG record with 140 kg on his second attempt. He went even better on the third with 143kg to take a five-kilo advantage over Malaysia’s Erry Hidayat, whose father Hamidon Hidayat is a former Commonwealth Games champion. Hamidon Hidayat won one gold and one silver in the days when separate medals were awarded for snatch, clean & jerk and total.
In Clean & Jerk Achinta Sheuli lifted 166kg in his first attempt but failed at 170kg – a new Games record. But he made up and lifted the same on his third attempt.
Hidayat’s only chance was to go 11 kg over his first attempt of 165 kg to dislodge Sheuli from the top. The Malaysian failed both times at 176 kg and Achinta Sheuli was the winner. Canada’s Shad Darsigny clinched the bronze medal with a 298 kg (135 kg+166 kg) effort.
“I was egged on by the crowd and because of the encouragement of the final lift, this was by far the best performance of my career. I have not experienced a crowd like that,” said Achinta Sheuli, whose story is one of hard work and selfless family sport.
Ajay Singh (81 kg) fell one kilo short of a medal and finished fourth. He lifted 143kg in snatch and managed a best of 176kg in Clean& Jerk for a total of 319. England’s Chris Murray (144 kg plus 181 kg) with 325 kg total won the gold, while Australia’s Kyle Bruce (143kg plus 180kg) with 323 kg was second and Canada’s Nicholas Vachon (140kg plus 180kg) with 320 kg total was third.