Deulpur village did not sleep a wink on Monday night. After all, their hero and Commonwealth golden boy Achinta Sheuli had come home.
Achinta’s mother had cooked a special meal to welcome her son home. “My villagers greeted me and my mother had made peas kachori with ghugni. It was really special,” an overwhelmed Achinta said.
Ever since the weightlifter bagged gold in the Commonwealth Games 2022, the non-descript gym in Howrah has been seeing a surge in new students.
After Achinta Sheuli returned to his native village in Howrah on Monday night, the entire village was staying awake to receive him. Throughout Tuesday, there were events in the village to celebrate the success of the golden boy. And before leaving for Delhi on Wednesday, Achinta had to attend all of those.
“Many of our friends, who didn’t have any interest in weightlifting before, have started asking about the sport,” said Basha Bar, a talented student of Astam Das, who is also Achinta’s coach.
But Achinta is not the first weightlifter from the gym to win a medal. Jyoti Mal, also a student of Astam Das, had struck gold at the Commonwealth Youth Championship in Malaysia in 2013 and Sampa Seth did well in the World Youth Weight Lifting Championship in 2012.
“There are 19 to 20 athletes from this gym now playing nationals. In fact, I was inspired by the success of Sampa and Jyoti to take up weightlifting,” said Tanusree Mondal, 19.
Chandan Roy Chowdhury, the president of West Bengal State Weightlifting Association and the secretary of Calcutta Rowing Club, said every time the country performs well in a sport in the international arena, there seems to be a renewed interest in the game.
“Whenever there is a champion from a particular discipline of sports in the country, people tend to join in. We saw a similar hype in 2019 after Pranati Nayak won bronze in Asian Championship 2019 but it died down after a while,” he said.
Roy Chowdhury hoped that Achinta’s success in weightlifting would inspire more youngsters to pursue the sport seriously. “There will definitely be more people joining the sport. Some will eventually quit, but at least a few will hopefully take the sport forward,” he said.