'I had no hopes of winning a medal after I injured my thighs during the National Championships while attempting 194 kg in clean and jerk. '
'Even now I am competing at less than ideal fitness, but I am glad that was enough to get me a gold.'
Defending champion Sathish Sivalingam (77 kg) claimed India's third gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday, emerging triumphant despite having given up podium hopes after his injured thighs made even routine things like sitting painful.
The 25-year-old Indian lifted a total 317 kg (144+173) and was so ahead in the competition that he forfeited his final clean and jerk lift.
"I had no hopes of winning a medal after I injured my thighs during the National Championships while attempting 194 kg in clean and jerk. It's a quadriceps problem; even now I am competing at less than ideal fitness, but I am glad that was enough to get me a gold," said Sathish, after the medal presentation ceremony during which he was accorded a warm applause from the packed arena.
"I was in so much pain that even sitting was very painful for me. Everyone took care of me, gave me hope but I was not very confident. I had not trained that hard and my body was not at its best, and so how could I hope for a medal," added the Tamil Nadu lifter.
It was a fascinating contest of one-upmanship between Sathish and eventual silver-medallist Jack Oliver of England in the snatch competition.
The two kept upping the weights before their attempts but Oliver kept his nose ahead at the end of snatch as he lifted 145 kg in his second attempt. It was a kilogram more than Satish's final attempt.
However, Satish had the last laugh in clean and jerk after Oliver failed two attempts of 171kg and settled for a total of 312 kg (145+167).
The bronze medal went to Australian showman Francois Etoundi, who lifted 305 kg (136+169) and collapsed clutching his injured shoulder after his final lift.
"I got lucky there, had he (Oliver) not dropped those weights, I would have had to go higher and I am not sure how my body would have taken that. I am quite relieved actually."
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Sathish won the gold medal with 149 kg snatch and 179 kg clean and jerk lifts, totalling 328 kg. His lift of 149 kg in snatch continues to be the Games record.
"I didn't want to touch that level because I still need to undergo rehabilitation. The fact that the access to our physio was limited made it all the more difficult. I just hope that we get a physio with us at the Asian Games," said Sathish, once again highlighting the problems the weightlifters are facing due to the lack of accessibility of their physios in the competition area.
Sathish is also the reigning Commonwealth Championships gold-medallist.
"I hope to do even better in the Asian Games because there is a gap now. Earlier, the Asian Games used to come within 20-25 days of the Commonwealth Games, which didn't give us enough time to prepare. But this time I have got time to prepare and be fully fit now," he said.