Achinta Sheuli smashed the Commonwealth Games record to earn GOLD

The 20-year-old from Deulpur, West Bengal, wins India’s third gold medal at the Birmingham Games after lifting a record 313kg.

A decaying brick house sticks out among the overgrown plants and trees. A lone cow moos beside a cowshed. A massive tricolour hangs on the porch wall, where five young ladies and a man are pumping iron. The ‘platform’ on which they stand is uneven, the barbells and metal plates are rusted and soiled, and tattered clothes are attached to the roof to protect them from the sun and rain.

Nothing gives the sense that champions can be created at this unpretentious facility in Deulpur, about an hour’s drive from Kolkata. But this is where Achinta Sheuli began his adventure as a junior world championship medalist and national record holder who earned India’s third gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday with a Games Record of 313kg (143kg in snatch, 170kg in clean and jerk).

Achinta Sheuli was first Indian to win a medal at Junior World weightlifting Championships

 

Advertisement

Sheuli’s childhood coach, who lives at this makeshift gym, recalls: “When I first met Achinta, he was quite skinny and did not look to be a weightlifter at all.” But he possessed speed, which is essential for every athlete in any sport.

Sheuli stepped inside this improvised institution for the first time exactly a decade ago, following in the footsteps of his elder brother Alok. “We were preparing for the Nationals when our father died in 2013, and our financial situation deteriorated,” Alok explains. “I was in my second year of college when this happened, and the obligation of providing for my family rested on my shoulders, so I had to drop out.”

The Sheulis reside close to Das’ home-cum-gym. On a narrow road, it’s a small house with brilliant green furnishings. Sheuli hasn’t been here in the previous five or six years. “In the previous several years, less than 30 days,” Alok explains, pointing to the room where the champion lifter has spent his life. It seems bleak right now, but as his mother, Purnima, points out, “all he has done and become began here.”

Achinta Sheuli Home

 

It all started with Alok viewing a bodybuilding competition, becoming attracted to it, and wishing to do something similar. Purnima accompanied her older kid to a gym run that Das was doing. Sheuli joined his brother a few years later.

Alok recalls that “he was the one who took Achinta and me under his wing,” Alok recalls of Das, a former national-level weightlifter who had to retire due to a back ailment. “He used to provide us with free training. He is so passionate about his skill that he quit a BSF career to pursue it. “

Das never worked full-time after leaving BSF, knowing it would interfere with his coaching time. He claims that when Sheuli initially came to him a decade ago, he was fragile and underweight. (However), one of the things that set him apart was his desire for the game. “He is not easily defeated,” Days adds. “I had so many players who were physically superior to him, but he was the one who pushed for the stars because of his never-say-die mentality.”

With the family’s low resources, Das stepped in and provided Sheuli with lifting equipment as well as nourishing food. “He used to exercise really hard, but owing to their financial situation, he found it difficult to maintain a decent diet.” I used to remind him that if he didn’t slow down and eat properly, he’d become sick. Then he went to the Army institute and received the requisite assistance, “Das says.”

The relocation to the Army Sports Institute in 2014 was a watershed moment.

It happened after Sheuli demonstrated his skills at the 2013 junior national championships in Guwahati. While they were still dealing with their father’s untimely death, Alok and Achinta’s passion for weightlifting remained strong. “We both competed in the Junior Nationals in Guwahati in 2013, and Achinta finished fourth,” Alok explains.

His performance was excellent enough for the Army Sports Institute instructors to notice him, and he was called for a trial in 2014. “He was the only one chosen from West Bengal,” Alok explains. “After being chosen, he dropped out of the local Deulpur high school in class 6 and completed his education at the Army Sports Institute.” He then competed in the Haryana Youth National Games, finishing third. He then joined the Army and received a letter from the Indian camp in 2015. He won silver at the Youth Commonwealth Games, which were held in Pune.

This was the start of a journey that included medals at the Junior Youth Nationals, Junior Asian Championships, Junior World Championships, Senior Nationals, and Commonwealth Championships before earning gold at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday. “He was also in the 2020 Olympic qualification round, but he lost out by 0.02 points,” Alok explains.

Sheuli’s consistent success across age groups makes her one of the most intriguing young prospects in Indian weightlifting.

“Achinta used to lift weights from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. without eating anything while we were in school.” He’d then return, eat something, and go to school. He returned to training at 4 p.m. and ate phena bhaat (rice congee) and a hard-boiled egg. “He’d workout till 7 p.m. and then come back,” Alok explains. “He had a strong personality.” I used to remind him that we didn’t have much and that weightlifting was the one thing that could get us something. That became his catchphrase.

After their father died, the entire family became involved in a tiny needlework company to support their financial requirements.

“We couldn’t feed him enough” (Achinta). We gave him Rs 500 as pocket money when he went to nationals, and he was overjoyed,” Alok recalls. “When he was in Pune, I used to work for a loading firm and could give him money to keep his training going.” We didn’t eat ourselves, but we made sure Achinta was well-fed.”

Alok is a contractual employee in the fire department, but he still aspires to be a weightlifting champion. Right now, he is living his dream vicariously through his brother, who seems to be on the verge of greater things.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More