India's P Gururaja won a silver in the men's 56 kg category on the opening day of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He lifted a total of 249 kg (111 kg in snatch and 138 kg in clean and jerk) -- his personal best -- to inaugurate India's medal tally at Gold Coast.
Malaysia's Muhammad Azroy Hazalwa Izhar Ahmad won gold after lifting a total of 261 kg (117 kg in snatch and 144 in clean and jerk) to further create a Commonwealth Games record. Sri Lanka's Chaturanga Lakmal won bronze, lifting a combined 248 kg.
At 26-years, Gururaja - a relatively old debutant at the Commonwealth Games - had a late start to his weightlifting career. Initially aspiring to become a wrestler particularly after watching Sushil Kumar win a bronze at the Beijing Olympics, Gururaja was unable to find a suitable academy in Ujire, near Mysore, where he was a college student. His attention then shifted to weightlifting instead.
At the Commonwealth Championships in September last year, Gururaja took a bronze medal with a total lift of 246kg (107 snatch and 139 in the clean and jerk). He finished seven kilos behind gold, in what must have been a disappointing result for him. He had previously won a gold at the 2016 Commonwealth Championships with a total of 249kg (108 snatch and 141 clean and jerk).
Gururaja wins India's first medal at the Commonwealth Games
Gururaja lifted a total of 249 kg (111 kg in snatch and 138 kg in clean and jerk) to inaugurate India's medal tally at Gold Coast.
Despite his immense potential, Gururaja too had to overcome immense obstacles to be where he is at today. Money has always been tight in his family of ten, with his father only barely making ends meet with his job as a truck driver. The situation only worsened when the family's tempo truck crashed. With no means to pay for his diet and kit, Gururaja was almost forced out of the sport but for the intervention of his gym-mates, who raised money to help him continue.
While a job in the air force has allowed him to focus on his career, his medal at the Commonwealth Games could make a new life for his family.