Hyderabad: Daughter of a small-time farmer, Kolli Varalakshmi Pavani Kumar, a student of Telangana State Sports School (TSSS) in Hakimpet (Hyderabad), cornered glory in the Asian Youth & Junior Weightlifting Championship being held in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) when she won one gold and two silver medals in women’s 45 kg category on Friday.
Hailing from a small village of Kothapalli, Cheedikada mandal in Visakhapatnam district, the TSSS lifter won the gold in snatch (66 kg) and then silver in clean and jerk (79 kg) for an overall lift of 145 kg to be placed second in the 45 kg category. She lost to the Chinese lifter by six kg.
The second year Intermediate student was all excited to win medals in her maiden appearance in an international meet. “I never expected to win a medal but I knew that if I keep my focus, I could make a mark here. I’m happy to be placed second,” said the 16-year-old.
Pavani dedicated the medal to her father K Appala Naidu and coach P Manikyala Rao. “We are financially in a poor shape and recently my father met with an accident. He damaged his gall bladder and we don’t have money to operate it and he has stopped going to the fields. As a result we are facing a lot of financial constraints. It pains me but I fought on gamely to keep my parents happy. Therefore, I decided to dedicate this medal to my father, who will feel happy that I won a medal for my country,” said an emotional Pavani from Tashkent.
Joining the Telangana Sports School in 2011 in fourth standard, Pavani never had any idea that she would take to weightlifting. “But Manikyala sir felt that I could shine in weightlifting. He has been a guide and philosopher to me since nine years,” said Pavani, who took to weightlifting in 2013.
Within two years of taking to weightlifting, Pavani struck a silver in the Bihar Nationals in 2015. Since then, she has won nine medals in the national championship and this performance has been the best in her career so far. “My dream is to win an Olympic medal,” she says. Manikyala was delighted with his ward’s show in Tashkent. “She is a confident lifter. She has a tremendous passion and is very hard working. She has the talent to bring more laurels to the country,” he said.