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All eyes are on Malleswari

ATHENS, AUG. 17. With Kunjarani Devi and Sanamacha Chanu failing in their 48kg and 53kg events respectively, all eyes are on Karnam Malleswari as the Sydney Olympic bronze medal winner prepares to display her wares in the 63kg weightlifting category of the Olympic Games here tomorrow.

The Indian camp is praying for a podium finish by Malleswari in the Games, which so far has seen dismal showing by the Indians.

And Malleswari can turn out to be lucky for the second time. She, along with Pratima Kumari, are the two Indian entries in the 63kg event in which the total field is 11.

Malleswari, who had lifted a bronze in 69kg category in Sydney, has shifted to 63 kg category. In this field, only three are above her.

The Indian's best in this weight category is 235 while Ukraine's Nataliya Skakun heads the field with a personal best of 247.5, followed by Bulgaria's Hanna Batsiushka who has a personal best of 245 kg and Greece's Anastasia Tsakiri (240 kg). The rest, including Pratima Kumari, are in the vicinity of 230 kg.

Winner of gold in the Commonwealth Championship in Tonga (lifted 235 kg), Malleswari has to produce a few notch higher performance tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the entry total can be deceptive as the coaches make rapid changes for their lifters according to the situation, as was seen in the case of Kunjarani and Chanu.

Sometimes lifters, whose entry total is shown 200 kg, may well opt to lift 230 or more. So Malleswari, who finished 11th in the World Championship at Vancouver, Canada, has to take account of all these factors.

Having won a medal in the last Olympics, one hopes that she will not choke at the crucial moment. She has seen it all and can hopefully handle the pressure.

Though there is no Chinese in this field, Korea's Soo Kyung Kim, Tunisia's Hayet Sassi and host nation's Anastasia Tsakiri, all of whom have an identical entry total of 230 kg, are also serious contenders.

The field is in fact very open and Malleswari can hope for a better showing than Sydney if she keeps her cool and luck favours her. — UNI

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