It was a momentous occasion for India on the first day of the International Weightlifting Federation Junior World Championships 2022 in Heraklion, Greece. The 18-year-old, Harshada Sharad Garud secured the gold medal with a combined effort of 153kg (70kg+83kg) in the women's 45kg category. She is a first-year Bachelor of Arts student at Savitribai Phule Pune University.
In this pursuit, she became the first weightlifter from India to win the gold medal in the 2022 edition. The effort in the 70kg earned her a podium finish, while she was at the second position in the clean and jerk round, behind the silver medalist, Turkey's Bektas Cansu (85kg), who finished with a combined effort of 150 kg (65kg+85kg).
Hincu Teodora-Luminita of Moldova was the recipient of the bronze medal, with a total effort of 149 kg (67 kg + 82kg).
After winning the yellow metal, Harshada had an interaction with the Press Trust of India and reckoned that she cannot express her happiness in words, and will take some time for the reality to sink in.
"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 told PTI on the phone.
Harshada had also won the 2020 Khelo India Youth Games under-17 girls' title. Her father Sharad Garud is a former state-level weightlifter as well.
“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.
Another Indian, Anjali Patel marked her presence in the fifth position on the table, with a total effort of 148 kg (67 kg +81 kg).
Ahead of this tournament, all the Indian athletes trained at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala for 1 month, wherein they met the Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu as well. The youngsters opened up on their interaction with the seniors at the training camp.
“We got to speak to all the seniors. I talked to Mira didi and asked her about her journey. It was great,” Harshada added.