As a child, Lovepreet Singh would often spend time watching his father Kirpal Singh stitch clothes in his shop outside their two-room village home. Her would also listen to tales of national-level weightlifter Heera Singh, who also hailed from their village Bal Sikandar.
On Tuesday afternoon, the 24-year-old did his village proud when he won the Commonwealth Games bronze medal in the 109kg category. He lifted a total of 355 kg with a national record of 163 kg in snatch and 192 kg in clean and jerk. Cameroon’s Junior Periclex won the gold with a total lift of 361 kg while Jack Opeloge of Samoa won the silver with a total lift of 358 kg.
“Jad chhota bachcha si tan bapu ji kapde stitch karan ch busy rehende si te gal karan da time nahi si. Aaj medal jeetya hai te bapu ji da phone busy a raheya hai (When I was a kid, I would wait to talk with my father amid his busy schedule at the tailoring shop and today, I am waiting to talk with him but his phone is busy). To win my first Commonwealth Games medal here is my gift to all the hard work done by my family,” Singh said from Birmingham.
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Singh, who started weightlifting at the age of 13, would initially practise weightlifting with the village youth at the Government school in the village before shifting his training to DAV School, Amritsar. The youngster would become a junior national and youth national medallist in 2016 before winning a bronze at the Asian Youth Championships. He would subsequently become the Junior Commonwealth Champion in the 105 kg category. Last year, Singh won the silver medal with a total lift of 332 kg in the Senior Nationals at Patiala before a bronze with a total lift of 348 kg in the Commonwealth Championships in Tashkent.
During the lockdown in 2020, Singh spent the longest time at his village since becoming a petty officer in the Indian Navy. “When Lovepreet showed his desire to become a weightlifter, I did not hesitate for a second to allow him. Even though I used to earn Rs 10,000 to 15,000 per month, I always tried to provide the best for Lovepreet. He would cycle to his Amritsar school and would then go to his training. Most of my customers came today to congratulate me and we made sure that all had sweets today,” said Kirpal.
On Wednesday, when Australian Jackson George failed to lift a clean and jerk weight of 211 kg to surpass Singh’s total, the Indian celebrated. “While I made a new national record in snatch, I like clean and jerk the most. Coach Vijay Sharma sir patted me and I see it as my reward,” said Singh.