Image Credits: @KIYG
Sangli, popularly known as the Turmeric City of Maharashtra, is also a hotbed for bristling young weightlifting talents with exciting prospects competing for glory.
One such name which has risen through the ranks in the past couple of years is Shubham Datta Kolekar.
Son of a small fabrication unit owner, the 21-year-old has already entrenched himself as one of the most promising weightlifters in the country.
Shubham had a breakout year in 2019 where clinched a gold medal at the National Junior Championship in Nagpur before setting a National Junior Record in 55kg class at the Khelo India Youth Games.
His lift of 272kg and two records in the process at the Senior National Weightlifting Championships in the men’s 61kg category in 2020 highlighted his talent further in stunning fashion.
His personal best:
Bodyweight category: 61kg
Personal Bests: 157kg
Clean and Jerk: 157kg
The Vilasrao Shinde Jr. College, Ashta, Sangli, student has won more than 200 gold medals so far in his nascent career and is strongly fancied to continue his upward trajectory in the sport.
Describe your weightlifting history. When/how did you start? Who have your coaches been? What are your best lifts?
As early as I can remember I had a connection or love of sports, always playing some sport involving anything. The year was 2014 and I was 15. I was attending a dance class when, Santosh Sinhasane spotted me as a good lifter’s physique, and he roped me into his gym and trained me…. that’s where it all began.
There was something about it that made me want to do it. I didn't know what it was but it sounded intriguing. When I began training, I poured my heart and soul into every practice and tournaments as much as anyone could. As time passed the joy a simple practice, scrimmage or a game brought to my life was amazing. My coaches are Mr. Bharat Kumble and Mr. Anil Patil, both have guided me in my journey and solidified my love of sports that still exists today. And my personal bests is 157kg – snatch: 115, clean and jerk: 157kg with a total of 273
Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a Weightlifter?
There were a number of people I looked up to when I was growing up. One that really touched me was K. Ravi Kumar. Not only is he an amazing person and athlete, but his dedication and drive were just so very inspiring to me.
Describe some of the obstacles you face, or maybe some things that frustrate you in weightlifting.
Injuries, those are my biggest obstacles and the most frustrating part of training. I used to have back pain and I cannot lift during the time. I would easily get frustrated while lifting. I take my training and competing very seriously and I have goals that I want to attain before I am done, but I have been doing this a long time and now I really want to succeed and reach my goals and make the country proud.
What kinds of changes would you like to see, either personally or with the sport in general?
It has been very rewarding to continue to develop the sport by staying involved. The sport has been really good to me and has given me a lot. It has helped me grow in so many ways. I would like to broaden my horizons by winning many international events such as Commonwealth Games, Asian Championships, Asian Games etc.
What were your best ever training lifts?
Some of my best note-worthy lifts are 157kg clean and jerk and snatch 115 kg.
What other things are you into other than Weightlifting?
With weightlifting being my passion, I also enjoy dancing as well.
Looking back at your school days and now, how did you think you evolved as a lifter and in what area do you feel you have improved the most? And what’s something you want to add to your lift or get better at?
From my schooling days to this day, I have thrived to achieve my goal in every way possible and will always keep doing it.
How supportive are your school/college when it comes to Weightlifting?
My school provided very full-support to my weightlifting but my parents were always there for me.
How does your outlook on fitness translate to other parts of your life?
When I am fit – I am mentally and physically well; good-looking and strong.
Is there one moment in your career that brings a smile to your face?
When I got my first international medal.
Many lifters have routines, habits and superstitions before/during the lift. Do you have any individual quirky things you do before a lift or special items you carry with you in your bag that must go with you everywhere?
My training has changed some over the past few years. I believe in myself and the hard work that I have put into my game for years so, no, I do not have any superstitious what so ever.
What are your plans and goals for your life in weightlifting? How do you see your future in the sport? Do you plan to stay involved in weightlifting for many years?
Right now, I am taking my career one year at a time. I have goals, but they mainly have to do with competing against myself and becoming a better athlete and lifting bigger weights.
In the long-term, I would like to win a medal and record at the Commonwealth Games. Of course, I understand that things will not happen overnight and before I can do anything, I know I need to stay healthy in order to train, trying that "slow and steady" approach. I am a competitive person and think I will always have to have some sort of competition to drive me. I definitely want to stay involved with weightlifting as far as coaching and helping the sport grow when I'm done with my top years. In my life, I want to be recognized as a good person and a weightlifter.
Who is the greatest weightlifter of all time?
MR. Ravi Kumar
Name one skill you would like to learn
I would like to learn dance.
Knowing what you know now, what one thing would you change in your first training routines?
Training routine is one thing, rest is also important.