Harshada Sharad Garud on Monday became India's first weightlifter to win a gold medal at the IWF Junior World Championships in Heraklion, Greece.
The 18-year-old Harshada claimed the gold medal with a total effort of 153kg (70kg+83kg) in the women's 45kg category, opening India's account on day one of the competition.
The 70kg effort in snatch earned Harshada a top-of-the-podium finish while she was second-best in the clean and jerk section, behind Turkey's Bektas Cansu (85kg), who took home silver medal with an overall effort of 150kg (65kg+85 kg).
"I am so happy, I can't comprehend what's happening, I am struggling to express my happiness right now. It will take some time to sink in," a delighted Harshada said.
The teenager, who had won the 2020 Khelo India Youth Games under-17 girls' title, took up weightlifting six years ago as a 12-year-old on the insistence of her father Sharad Garud, who himself was a state-level weightlifter.
"My father was a state level weightlifter. Although, I never saw him in action, I always heard his stories and stories about him. I never thought of doing anything else," Harshada said.
Before the world event, Harshada along with the rest of the Indian contingent for junior world championship trained at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala for a month.
There the youngsters got to meet and interact with senior weightlifters including Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu.
"We got to speak to all the seniors. I talked to Mira didi, asked her about her journey. It was great,: said Harshada, who is a first year Bachelor of Arts student at Savitribai Phule University in Pune.
In Greece, Harshada managed to pull off clean lifts in all her six attempts, the only one to achieve the feat in the eight-lifter field which did not see participation from the sport's powerhouse China, which bagged eight medals including seven golds at last year's Tokyo Olympics.
Hincu Teodora-Luminita of Moldova bagged the bronze 149kg (67kg+82kg) in the non-Olympic category.
The other Indian in the field, Anjali Patel finished fifth overall with a total effort of 148kg (67kg+81kg).
The medals are awarded separately for snatch, clean and jerk, and total lift in continental and World Championships. But, just one medal – for total lift – is awarded in the Olympics.
Mirabai and Jhilli Dalabehera who won a bronze in the 2013 and 2018 editions, respectively and last year's silver winner Achinta Sheuli are the other Indians who have won medals at the junior world event previously.