Bhubaneswar: In less than a year after being established, Odishas Weightlifting High-Performance Centre has begun the process of churning out champions.
Kumbheswar Mallik is the latest in this line, clinching a bronze medal in the 55kg weightlifting event at the Khelo India University Games here on Wednesday.
Kumbheswar, who represented Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology in the KIUG, has no qualms in conceding that his decision to come to Bhubaneswar was a life-changer.
“I started training at the high-performance centre here five months back. I have really improved during this time. I’ve changed my technique and I feel much better now,” he said.
“My diet has changed and I’m being trained by a professional who also has a lot of experience as an athlete. I’m really happy that I won my first medal, a bronze, here; it gives me a lot of confidence and I am truly excited,” Kumbheswar added.
Founded in 2019, in association with the Anil Kumble-promoted TENVIC, the weight-lifting centre is one of the nine operational HPCs in the state.
Sponsored by the KJS Ahluwalia Group and situated within the KIIT campus, the lifting centre currently boasts of 18 girls and 17 boys, all training under Iranian-British coach Kazem Punjavi.
Being a part of the high-performance centre, Kumbheswar has access to a nutritionist, a masseur and a physiotherapist, who all work together to keep him fighting fit.
“When Kumbheswar came to us, he had a little flaw in his technique. It was easy to correct it and that has improved his performance drastically. He had lifted almost 19kgs more than he had done in the last competition and that is no easy task,” coach Kazem, who represented Iran in the 1992 summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, said.
Revealing how Kumbheswar and others become part of the HPC, Kazem said, “We have a fine selection process, through clubs and schools. We divide them into two groups, advanced and new lifters. The new lifters become very sound in their technique, and they are the future,” he said.