Achinta Sheuli created a Commonwealth Games record and won India's third gold medal. But the path that led him here has been one filled with challenges for this 20-year-old.
From embroidering necklines on women’s kurtas and working on fields to winning a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games (CWG), Achinta Sheuli has come a long way. The 20-year-old won gold in the men’s 73 kg category weightlifting with a combined lift of 313 kg (snatch 143 kg + clean and jerk 170 kg), creating a CWG record.
After his win, he dedicated his medal to his brother.
I am very happy. After overcoming many struggles, I won this medal. I dedicate this medal to my brother and coaches. I will next prepare for the Olympics, said Achinta to ANI.
Hailing from Deulpur in West Bengal, Achinta was introduced to weightlifting by his brother Alok, who was fascinated by weightlifting after watching a bodybuilding competition. His mother Purnima then took him to a gym run by Astam Das in 2010. After a few years, Achinta followed his brother to that gym, and took to it, as a fish takes to water.
Das trained them for free and provided nutritious food too.
But the turning point in Achinta’s life was the Junior National Championship held in 2013 in Guwahati, Assam.
According to The Indian Express, Achinta came fourth and was noticed by the Army Sports Institute. Alok said that Achinta was called for a trial by the Institute in 2014.
“After getting selected, he left the local Deulpur High School in class 6 and finished his studies in the Army Sports Institute. He then participated in Youth National Games in Haryana and came third. He then joined the Army and in 2015, he got a letter from the Indian camp. He got a silver in the Youth Commonwealth Games which was organised in Pune,” said Alok to The Indian Express.
This came after a year of struggle after their father’s death. In a report in Sportstar, Alok said that they didn’t even have money to perform their father’s last rites.
To fend for themselves, Purnima started doing needlework, and the kids joined later. They would get contracts to embroider necklines of women’s kurtas.
Speaking to Sportstar, Alok said that the work was very hard.
It was 12 hours a day, seven days a week. On a very good week, with the three of us working, we would make Rs 1,200. On an average week, it was less,said Alok.
The brothers didn’t just do embroidery. They took up any work that came their way.
“Achinta and I worked in the fields; we harvested crops and carried the loads on our heads. We have carried paddy for Re 1 [per] bag. We didn’t always do it for money either. We did manual labour in a field for a week, at one point, because we were given an egg a day and a kilo of chicken at the end of it,” said Alok to Sportstar.
Alok became the breadwinner of the family after his father’s death. He gave up his weightlifting dreams to support his brother.
Achinta told Sportstar that he would train and embroider whenever he had the time while also going to school.
The training and food at Army Sports Institute helped Achinta get strong and gain weight.
He went on to win gold at the Commonwealth Championship in 2019 and silver at the Junior World Championship in 2021.
He is now able to support his family thanks to the Army job and stipend. His mother doesn’t need to do tailoring work, which Achinta says is his biggest achievement. Meanwhile, his brother is focusing on his career now.
“The biggest happiness for me is that I have been able to contribute to the security of my family. With the money I’m making, I have been able to let my mother finally leave her job doing embroidery. I did embroidery myself when I had to help my family. But it feels very good that I can help them through my weightlifting now,” said Achinta to Sportstar.
Achinta believes that a target, focus and discipline are essential to succeed in life. And rightly so, he has won India’s third gold at the CWG after Mirabai Chanu and Jeremy Lalrinnunga.
‘Achinta Sheuli dedicates gold to brother Alok who quit weightlifting and worked as a labourer to keep him going in sport’ by Jonathan Selvaraj for Sportstar, Published on 01 August, 2022
‘Underweight once, Achinta Sheuli does the heavy lifting to extend India’s golden run at Commonwealth Games weightlifting’ by Sayak Dutta for The Indian Express, Published on 01 August, 2022
‘A golden story from Bengal’s swamps – Weightlifter Achinta Sheuli’s journey to glory’ by Rajdeep Saha for The Bridge, Published on 31 July, 2022
Edited by Yoshita Rao