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September 13, 2000
Indian women lifters in 'medal zone'
Weightlifting coach Pal Singh Sandhu and selector Balbir Singh Bhatia on Wednesday asserted that the two Indian women lifters, Karnam Malleswari and Sanamacha Chanu, are in the ''Olympic medal zone'' in their respective categories.
Sandhu and Bhatia are confident that Malleswari, in the 69 kg category, and Sanamacha, in the 53 kg category, will put up an inspired and improved display and be among the medals at the Games weightlifting competition.
Sandhu said T Muthu, the only male lifter in the team, who had lifted 240 kg at the selection trials, could end up in 10th to 12th place.
''Our main concentration is on the women lifters. Both the girls are doing well as they have undergone a tough training programme. They are looking forward to making their debut in the Olympics,'' Sandhu said.
Sanamacha's event is scheduled for 1430 hrs (local time) on September 18 and the very next day, Malleswari will be on the Olympic stage at 1830 hrs (local time).
Bhatia, himself a veteran lifter of yesteryear, said Malleswari has been selected to participate in 69 kg event and there is no question of her changing to any other category.
He said both the girls have enough experience, having participated in various international competitions. ''So I do not expect them to get unnerved here,'' he said, admitting,''the Olympics is a very awesome sporting stage where athletes who can hold on to nerves, emerge winners."
Bhatia said: ''Besides, it also depends upon that particular moment; many great players have fumbled in the Olympics.''
Regarding veteran weightlifter Kunjarani's allegation that the selection was biased and she was deliberately dropped, Bhatia said, ''I have already clarified the matter several times. I regard Kunjarani a great lifter as she has done a great job for the country. The selection of these two lifters was done by a 13-member committee and not by one individual. There is no use of criticising some people simply because a particular person has been dropped.''
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