India's Olympic Hope: Meet Sathish Kumar Sivalingam, the weightlifter from Vellore
When the Rio Olympics gets underway in about three weeks from now, Sathish Kumar Sivalingam will be hoping to become only the second Indian weightlifter ever to stand on the podium.
Weightlifting has never been India’s strength at the Olympics and Indians have perenially been also-rans in the competition, just making up the numbers.
It was at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 that Karnam Malleswari rewrote history and became the first Indian weightlifter to win a medal, when she won a bronze in the 69kg division.
Sathish was born in Vellore, Tamil Nadu on June 23, 1992 and studied at the Sathuvachari government school. He enrolled for BA history at Abdul Hakeem College in Melvishram but dropped out in the third year after he got a job in the railways and is presently employed in the Southern Railway.
Sathish started training as a teenager and used to work out for close to five hours a day under the guidance of his father, who was himself a former national level wrestler. He was enrolled in the Atlas Weightlifting Training Centre near his home.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was the crowning glory of his career, as he lifted the gold in the 77kg category with a total lift of 328kg, including 149kg in snatch and 179kg in clean and jerk.
Sathish qualified for Rio by topping the selection trials held at Patiala after India got two quota places for the Olympics, in the men’s and women’s category. Sathish lifted a total of 336kg in the 77kg weight division, including 151kg in snatch and 185kg in clean and jerk.
On his gold medal winning performance at the Commonwealth games in Glasgow, he had said that it was a turning point for him as four years of toil had finally borne fruit and he had fulfilled the dreams of his parents, who had already told everybody in the village that their son would win a medal.
"I am from a poor family and my father was in the army in a small post. He played at the national championships but failed to win a medal at the international level. He wanted me to win a medal in a big international event."
(India's Olympic Hope is a series of profiles of south India's Olympic participants of Rio 2016)