Chandigarh-based weightlifter Veerjeet Kaur is not a known name but her recent achievement makes her story inspiring. Kaur competes in the 49kg weight category and at the on-going Junior National Weightlifting Championship 2019 in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, she won a gold medal on Wednesday. Making the country and her father Aatma Singh proud, 19-year-old Kaur is blessed with ​​​a ​​committed coach and the strength to win the sky. A student of Post Graduate Government College for Girls, Chandigarh, she mastered the sport by once lifting sacks of wheat and other crops at her father’s home at Rori village in Sirsa district in Haryana. Then she shifted her base to Chandigarh. It was also the first time a Chandigarh weightlifter won a gold medal in junior nationals.

Kaur lifted 160kg (70 in snatch and 90 in clean and jerk). She dominated the stage so much so that the silver medallist could only lift 145kg.

“Last year, I missed the gold by a whisker. But I was pretty confident this time. I dedicate this medal to my coach (Karanveer Singh Buttar), without whom it was not possible,” the 19-year-old told TOI from Bodhgaya.

The journey

Talking about her journey and how weightlifting finally thrilled her after trying out various other sports, Kaur told The Indian Express, “Before coming to Chandigarh, I did not know what weightlifting was. I played games like Kho kho and Kabaddi at my village with my elder brother and sister. My father owns an eight-acre farm so when he took the crop to sell in the market, I would help him load the wheat sacks in the tractor. That’s what taught me to lift heavy weights. Today, when I won the gold medal in junior nationals, I called my father to tell him about the record and he shared the news with the whole village.” Kaur said.

After moving to Chandigarh in 2016, the young weightlifter was spotted by weightlifting coach Karanbir Singh Buttar. She started training under him at weightlifting hall at Sector 42 Sports Complex. Kaur became the junior champion in Chandigarh in 2016 and also lifted the trophy in 2017. Last year, Kaur won the silver in the 31st Junior National Weightlifting Championship at Nagpur. At Nagpur, Kaur’s overall total was 155 kg (67 in snatch and 88 in clean and jerk). Improving the weights, on Wednesday, Kaur lifted a total of 160 kg with 70 kg in snatch and 90 kg in clean and jerk.

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“I was practising at the college gymnasium when coach Buttar came to recruit some players for the coaching centre. As I trained, I took a liking to weightlifting and would watch videos online to study various techniques. Winning the silver medal in last year’s junior nationals at Nagpur made me believe that I can win at national level and I am happy that I could change the colour of the medal this year,” Kaur said.

​“I noticed her during a trial at the Sector 42 College a couple of years back. She was different from the others. I was very impressed with her sprint, broad jump and push up,” Coach Buttar said. “I asked her to come and train with me at the sports complex. Initially, her family was against it because of the financial strain. But after I told them I am going to bear all her expenses, they agreed,” he said. “Sir has not charged a single rupee for my training. He pays for my kit and diet on his own,” said Veerjeet, who won a bronze medal in the Khelo India Youth Games held in Pune last year.

“Before coming to Chandigarh, I did not know what weightlifting was. I played games like Kho kho and Kabaddi at my village with my elder brother and sister.”

Financial challenge

Caring less about these expenses, Buttar added, “There are times when I have had no money to pay for my next month’s expenses, but I’ve never worried too much about these things. If you worry about how you are going to do things, you won’t ever do anything.” “My ultimate target is to prepare an international-level weightlifter from Chandigarh.”

Remembering the earlier experience with the youngster, Buttar said, “The reason we picked her up to train at our centre was that she was good in sprints as well as picking up weights. When we trained her, her weightlifting movement was swift and she was always eager to train more. Last year, when she won the silver in junior nationals, she was a bit disappointed. She has ended the disappointment with today’s gold medal.”

Kaur’s idol

One of Kaur’s inspirations is Mirabai Chanu, who created record at the senior national with a combined total of 201 kg (87 kg snatch and 114 kg clean and jerk) at this year’s World Championships.  “Though I have not met Mirabai di, I often see her videos and observe her training. She has been a role model for all the youngsters and I aim to improve further to reach near her national record,” Kaur said.

Feature Image Credit: Jagran

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