The first ever Youth Olympics gold medalist for India, Jeremy Lalrinnunga’s manifesting upon the global weightlifting arena is a case manifested indeed. Hailing from the capital city of Mizoram, the 2002 born’s affinity for breaking records is one that he religiously pursues as a way of life indeed.
The premise of his life might seem like one that had stirred in him this passion to lift weights and topple records regularly in the process. After all, his father Lalneihtluanga Ralte identifies as a sportsman himself, specifically a seven time junior national champion boxer well recognised in the Mizoram pugilism circuit. And while that very well might have been the case in making Jeremy interested in athletics, it would not be so much of the factor curating his now established identity as one of the most promising young weightlifters of the country.
Instead, Jeremy ‘inherited’ the genes of boxing and fancied his own prospects in the sport. Accompanying his father quite often at the training, the young lad looked up to him and wished to emulate his boxing moves in all sincerity. But when he saw his friends training for weightlifting, Jeremy became quite fascinated with the strength that the sport calls for in an obvious show of its character. And so he changed his sporting course and thus the entire course of his life as well, destining for himself an identity of glory in the lifts and weights of this undertaking well taken to in his very childhood.
Fanned at a tender age of eight, the dream that Lalrinnunga has been chasing ever since is today a reality well scripted. But the journey for him has not been as smooth as one would expect it to be. For even when Jeremy has always enjoyed the full support of his family and began training also quite early on in life, it still were financial hurdles that he had to overcome before overcoming competition in his passion stirred profession. That however only helped Jeremy strengthen his play as he aced indeed the art of lifting weights, in both physical and emotional manner of their handling.
At the SPS academy in his hometown where Jeremy’s love affair with weightlifting began, it would be bamboo sticks and water pipes that summed up his training regimen. Advancing thereafter to lifting weights and joining the Army Sports Institute in 2012 with an induction into the national camp in 2016 would be how the youngster’s career took flight as he set himself fully on course for a spree of record lifting weights.
Carrying thus the weight of expectations on his shoulders and not crumbling under the enormous pressure, instead uplifting the hearts and hopes of a nation of people as he went about his business at the monumental occasion of the Youth Olympics Games in 2018 and Jeremy Lalrinnunga would emerge to be the new youth icon of the nation. His achievement was phenomenal indeed in the unprecedentedness of occurrence but it also was the manner in which the then 17 year old brought upon himself this distinction that made him an even sure winner.
Adorable in his cheeriness and carefree attitude, even when bearing such seriousness that had him emerge as the first ever gold medal winner for India at the global event, it would be to the entire credit of his person that would see Jeremy Lalrinnunga bask in the glory of a feat he claimed for himself in an undoable capacity. Prior to his gaining the golden touch though, Jeremy had still availed for himself many a titles and medals at both the national and international level.
A silver at the 2016 junior world weightlifting championship in the 56kg category was how Jeremy stormed into the world scene even as he followed it up with another second place finish at the Asian junior championships to mark the eventful year of his life. The silver streak extended as well into 2017 with the youth world weightlifting championships accounting for that tally while Lalrinnunga also managed to strike gold- very literally indeed with the 2017 Commonwealth weightlifting championships at both the youth and junior levels of competing.
Things would get even more ‘colorful’ in 2018 that saw the colors of the bronze also decorating his neck with a third place standing on the podium at the juniors of the Asian Championship. A silver was what Jeremy clinched next in the youth event of the same championships, capping off the most memorable run yet of his career with the historic Youth Olympics gold while competing in the 62 kg category.
2019 saw Jeremy move up to compete in the 67kg category at the EGAT Cup International Weightlifting Competition where he claimed a silver medal. He followed it up with a silver at the Asian Junior Championship and earning gold at the youth level of the same tournament. He also smashed a whopping 12 records enroute his march upon the podium in both levels of competing.
The record breaking spree that Jeremy embarked on would be surpassed by his own exploits at the 6th Qatar International Cup, specially significant in being one of the qualification events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Even in having a second place finish, Lalrinnunga still managed to shatter an astounding 27 records including 12 international ones and setting his own benchmark at 306 kgs.
It seemed like Jeremy would make it a part of his weightlifting routine to also lift in record counts of their weight. Thus even after a hiatus of a year induced by the coronavirus pandemic, the youngster would still keep himself well on course for scripting many such successes. Even when he could not better his personal best, though falling short by only a kilo, 2021 still saw Jeremy avail for himself his first senior level gold. At the Commonwealth Senior Championship that the prodigious talent won over, the path would also be secured for Jeremy to compete at the prestigious Commonwealth Games the following year.
A lift of ‘three tons’ over his shoulders earned Jeremy Lalrinnunga the coveted gold on debut at the 2022 event. But while he basked indeed in the glory of a performance that created a new games record and made his country proud even when not meeting own expectations, the Mizo lad would bear sensibility enough to not be indefinitely immersed in the pit of success. Soon after it manifested in reality the dream that he harboured of making the top rung of the podium his own, the Khelo India School gold medalist was already planning out the next move in honoring his inclusion as part of the government- funded Target Olympic Podium scheme.
Already considered as one of the bright prospects for the 2024 Olympic Games, Lalrinnunga’s feat at the Commonwealth Games was even more commendable given that he suffered quite a scare in the form of an injury while competing in the event. It wouldn’t be the first encounter with injury though, and not the first as well threatening his shot at success. In fact a knee problem had already hampered his prospects at the junior World Championships and Asian Championships and cost him thus a place at the Tokyo Olympics. He finally had to undergo surgery in 2021 even as a spine problem would emerge next to trouble him during the World Championships. It then is a testament of his grit and determination that still saw him make it to the CWG event and in such style that is characteristic of his young energy and disciplined character.
Not surprisingly then, even when his body did bother him also in the final show and in very evident intensity of a pain as well, Jeremy did all he could as part of his nature in not giving up to feel the pride of the national colors wrapped around his person. And no sooner had he succeeded in living the dream that he had seen for himself in collective aspirations of glory, the youngster was back doing what he religiously pursues as being his personal stepping stone of success- manifesting a script that would narrate the tale of a triumph, well worked out and well deserved indeed.
The ‘usual’ way Lalrinnunga goes about his prep for major tournaments is by changing the wallpaper of his phone. A display of the upcoming tournament medal upon his phone is all the motivation Jeremy needs to strive in his training of disciplined strength. Whether it be the 2018 record at Buenos Aires in Argentina or the 2022 success achieved at Birmingham, England, the trick dictating Jeremy’s ‘fortunes’ has worked consistently all along.
But while these images of the medals might be temporarily significant reminders of earning permanent recognition, there is something about pictures particularly appealing to this young lifter of astounding weights. Very uniquely decorating the forearms of Jeremy is a certain tattoo, that is ‘massive’ in the essence of what it has been inked as. Telling a story of its own- this time the entire life saga of this 20 year old is this piece composed up by many different elements, each significantly steeped in the meaning that they hold as indispensable aspects of his identity.
Unlike any other body art that one might have ever seen, what Jeremy proudly wears on his sleeve is his heart indeed- in reflecting indeed the essence of that saying. Two figurines decorate the stretch of his skin one of which is his boxer father and the other asserting as his own identity. Even etched are three sets of numbers in Roman, of which 1988 stands for the year of his father’s advent into boxing, 7-7 for his mother Lalmuanpuii’s date of birth and 11-11-2011 denoting in all definiteness the day when it all started for him. His love for his mother finds expression also in the etching of a MOM pattern as part of the tattoo, summing up then the entire life and essence of this immensely talented weightlifter.
For all his emotional side on display therefore, it sure had not been easy for Jeremy when he had to shift base to Pune as a 9 year old for training. Neither was it any less difficult that he had not been home for some two years before the CWG triumph. Inducted into the Indian army in May 2019 as a Naib Subedar in the 17th Battalion of the Brigade of the Guards, the patriotic as well teenager at that time has had to endure such struggle that might not be very obvious at first glances of them. But what has remained constant through such spanning of his life is his zeal to succeed and make both his region and his nation equally proud. A quick learner, an ebullient soul and a face that glows with the pride of an identity that he has earned for himself, Jeremy Lalrinnunga’s weighted stature is a case in success of such kind that uplifts and inspires indeed but also makes it difficult to brush aside the appeal of his endearing ‘attempts’.