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Lima, Preview: India aiming for “simultaneous” medals as IWF tries two platforms for first time at World Youth Championships

India could win medals in different competitions at the same time when the IWF World Youth Championships starts in Peru on Wednesday.

All 20 weight categories, 10 each for men and women, will be staged in five days because, for the first time, there will be two platforms at an IWF Championships.

One platform will be for the men’s events and the other for the women. On the first day India – which is sending a team of 10 on a 34,000-kilometre round trip – has athletes in all four A Groups, which run simultaneously at 1400 and 2030 in Lima.

Athletes are already training in Lima

It is no surprise to see India looking to the future. The nation is bidding to host the 2036 Olympic Games and it knows that developing athletes now is essential.

“The government wants us to do a long-term plan and we have already started our talent identification process state by state,” said Vijay Sharma, India’s head coach.

“The level of interest is the key. Boxing, wrestling and athletics are the most popular among children, but weightlifting has become more popular after Mira (Mirabai Chanu) won her silver medal in Tokyo. There’s a lot of interest in her home state of Manipur, especially for girls.

Everything is getting ready in the Peruvian capital

“Our team for Peru is a new one, with all ten athletes from different states. We are focusing mainly on the lighter categories.”

India won one silver and four bronzes at last year’s World Youth Championships in Albania. “We are hoping for seven or eight medals this time,” said Sharma.

“These athletes will probably be too old for 2036 – we want them to be 21, 22 at that time so we are looking for talent aged nine or ten.

“It took us a long time in India to come back from doping scandals. We have been successful with that, and now after Mira’s medal we are doing well. I would say that the future looks much brighter than the past for us.”

Chinese Taipei, with 11 athletes, also sends a big team from Asia. Five members of the Pan American Federation have entered large teams – 19 for hosts Peru, 18 for Mexico, 15 for Colombia, 14 for Venezuela and 11 for the United States. Turkey, Poland and Spain send the largest teams from Europe.

Three champions from last year compete in Lima – Ogulshat Amanova for Tukmenistan in the women’s 49kg, Seryoza Barseghyan from Armenia in the men’s 73kg and Irakli Vekua from Georgia in the men’s super-heavyweights.

Etta Mae Love, the Canadian who was second in the women’s super-heavyweights in Albania last March, might have a shot at the youth world record in clean and jerk, judging by her numbers in training.

By Brian Oliver