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All eyes, hopes on Malleswari

August 17, 2004 16:34 IST

The 75-strong Indian contingent, which has drawn a blank in its medal hunt in the first three days at the Olympics in Athens, will be looking up to Sydney Games bronze medallist Karnam Mallewari when she climbs the weightlifting stage to start her campaign in the 63kg women's class on Wednesday.

The Andhra-born lifter, who has come out of retirement to take part in the Games, will try to recapture her form by taking advantage of the absence of any lifter from all-powerful China in her weight class.

As the situation stands in her weight category, there are only two lifters -- Hanna Batsiushka of Belarus and Natalya Shakun of Ukrain ranked above Malleswari who have been credited with lifts of 240 kg.

Malleswari's personal best is 235 kg with her reduced weight. She had lifted 240 kg for the bronze medal in the 69kg division four years ago.

The tally of Batsiushka and Shakun, however, is less than that of China's Chen Xiaomin, the defending champion with a record lift of 242.5 kg. The Chinese is not scheduled to make an appearance in the category in Athens.

Hanna holds the world record in snatch (113.5kg) while Shakun lifted a record 138kg in clean and jerk. The two had contested in 58 kg class at Sydney.

Hayet Sassi of Tunisia and Anastasia Tsakiri of Greece are the other lifters with a lift of 230 kg who seem to be in the Indian's way to the podium.

Malleswari, who is joint 17th along with Nora Koppel of Argentina in 75kg division, also has compatriot Prathima Kumari, who has a maximum lift of 210kg, in the same division.

But Prathima, who is among the top 15 in the world, is suffering from backache after the lifters' training stint in Belarus and is unlikely to create any ripples.

Chief Coach Pal Singh Sandhu had said before the team's departure that the lifters had trained well at Belarus for one-and-a-half months, but added, "training doesn't only mean improving but to maintain one's world-class performance is also very difficult".

Compatriots Kunjarani Devi (48kg) and Sanamacha Chanu (53kg) are already out of the competition without attaining the medal standard.

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