For most of us, weightlifting is a Pandora’s box. We call the team members the incredible hulks of the institute and admire their poised muscle power but knowing anything beyond that is a rarity. In order to break this unenlightened outlook, we decided to get to know these macho men better and more importantly what exactly goes into the making of these skilled professionals. Dive in to know more about this glorious and off-beat sport.
Note: The credits for the photographs in this article go to Swapnika and the Sports Organizing Committee. We thank the media club for their support!
One surprising fact about the weightlifting team is that all the members had their first dab at it after coming to the institute. Not a single soul knew the nitty-gritty of the sport before.
Thus, our first question was obviously aimed at understanding how they got into weightlifting in the first place.
Many on the team admit to the fact that they started off with NSO. One of them merrily says, “I went for the mainstream NSO selections like cricket and football but was never chosen and hence landed up here.” But they have come a long way from there. The senior players on the team talk admirably about the hostel culture because of which they were pushed into trying new sports by their seniors so that their hostels could maintain the Schroeter stardom. “If it were up to us, we would have never tried weightlifting ourselves.”
All of them admit to the fact that over a period of years, the freshie enthusiasm and approach towards weightlifting has diminished considerably owing to the establishment of freshie hostels and lack of hostel spirit. Unlike other sports, on a team of 10, there is only one freshie. There was a time, they say, when IIT Madras was the best at it winning for 2 consecutive years and setting up a few records too. The team, this year, hopes to bring the gold back home.
This brought us to our next question. How exactly is a winner decided?
As it turns out, there are five different categories in inter IIT depending on the body weight with two participants allowed in each category. The weight categories are 56, 62, 69, 77 and above 77 (in kgs). Body weight testing is conducted before commencing the matches. Once the category is assigned, there are two disciplines called the snatch and the clean and jerk. In the snatch discipline, the objective is to lift the barbell from the ground to above the head in one fluid motion. The clean and jerk discipline includes two motions where the competitor also gets a chance to balance the weight near the shoulders before impulsing the barbell for the final lift. Obviously, in general, a contestant lifts more weight in the clean and jerk discipline.
In every competition, both the disciplines are conducted with three calls per round. As a thumb rule, once the barbell is loaded, it cannot be unloaded. This makes the competition more fierce as it progresses. Finally, the team which lifts the maximum weight in that category is declared as the categorical winner. Results from all the categories culminate into the final rankings of the teams. The decisions to choose the weights for every call are generally left to the discretion of the captain and the coach.
One of the team member slips it casually to us that he has to reduce two kilos in a matter of three days in order to qualify for the category he wants to compete in. “I can do it in one night!”, he says.
Our surprise was apparent when we heard his jaw-dropping claim.
He continues, “We dehydrate our body one night before the tournament and of course don’t eat any food. As our body has a lot of water content, this does the job more often than not. But in order to quicken the pace we wear special tight-fitting suits after applying a gel and sweat ourselves in the sun. A few hours like this and we are there! But yes, we tend to eat a lot after the tournament and gain all the weight back even faster. We might end up gaining a bit too much sometimes because of this swindle!”
Weight lifting and other sports
Weightlifting is considerably different from the mainstream sports. Mastering the technique takes a lot of time and to top that a lot of hard work goes into raising the bar (quite literally!). Surprisingly so, weightlifting is poles apart from gymming. Most of the team members claim that they hate hitting the gym. Weightlifting concentrates more on stamina and strength while gymming is a short term investment. The team is coached all year round without any long term breaks to hone their muscles and skills. Once they are on the team, there is no looking back because of the amount of training required even before competing for the first time.
The team and the coach
The team sure has a way to keep their spirits high. One example is the names they have picked for each other. ‘Chicken legs’ and ‘pocket hulk’ are competing in the 56 kgs category this time. ‘Baby’ and ‘Parda’ are defending the 62 kgs category while the 69 category includes Poppy and Omkar. Nitin Chauhan and Pradeep are in the 77 kgs category and finally Bikram and Shivam the ‘bhalu’ in the above 77 kgs category. The complete team is lead by Pradeep and being coached by Mr. Rajashekhar.
The team speaks highly about their coach who has been around for over ten years and is one of the senior most coaches across all the sports. The team gives all the credit for their improvement to him. He has a track record of training international level players and has also coached Karnam Malleshwari in the past. The coach stands as their single source of inspiration and support.
We wish the weightlifting team the very best of their luck as they take on their mighty opponents namely Bombay, Kanpur and Kharagpur and hope to bring back the glorious days.