Veerjeet Kaur: From lifting sacks of wheat for father to winning weightlifting gold for city

Nitin Sharma
Standing tall: Weightlifter Veerjeet Kaur and coach Karanbir Singh Buttar. (Express Photo)

Before shifting her base to Chandigarh, a young Veerjeet Kaur would often help her father Aatma Singh in picking up sacks of wheat and other crops at their home at Rori village in Sirsa district in Haryana. On Wednesday, as the 19-year-old Chandigarh weightlifter became the junior national champion in the 49 kg category in the 32nd Women Junior National Weightlifting Championships at Bodh Gaya, Bihar, she called up her father and told him about her achievement. It was also the fist time a Chandigarh weightlifter won a gold medal in junior nationals.

“Before coming to Chandigarh, I did not know what weightlifting was. I played games like kho kho and kabaddi at my village with my elder brother and sister. My father owns an eight-acre farm and when he used to take the crop to sell at the market, I would help him load the wheat sacks in the tractor. That’s what taught me to lift heavy weights. Today, when I won the gold medal in junior nationals, I called my father to tell him about the record and he shared the news with the whole village,” said Kaur, who is a student of BA-III at MCM DAV College, Sector 26, Chandigarh.

The youngster had shifted base to Chandigarh in 2016 and was spotted by weightlifting coach Karanbir Singh Buttar to train at weightlifting hall at Sector 42 Sports Complex. Kaur became the junior champion in Chandigarh in 2016 before replicating the feat in 2017. Last year, Kaur won the silver in the 31st Junior National Weightlifting Championship at Nagpur. At Nagpur, Kaur’s overall total was 155 kg with a lift of 67 kg in snatch and 88 kg in clean and jerk. On Wednesday, Kaur’s total read 160 kg with 70 kg in snatch and 90 kg in clean and jerk.

“I was practising at the college gymnasium when coach Buttar came to recruit some players for the coaching centre. As I trained, I took a liking to weightlifting and would watch videos online to study various techniques. Winning the silver medal in last year’s junior nationals at Nagpur made me believe that I can win at national level and I am happy that I could change the colour of the medal this year,” Kaur said.

Coach Karanbir Singh Buttar rates Kaur highly and remembers the early days of the youngster. “The reason we picked her up to train at our centre was that she was good in sprints as well as picking up weights. When we trained her, her weightlifting movement was swift and she was always eager to train more. Last year, when she won the silver in junior nationals, she was a bit disappointed. She has ended the disappointment with today’s gold medal,” Bhuttar said.

While Mirabai Chanu created the senior national record with a combined total of 201 kg (87 kg snatch and 114 kg clean and jerk) at this year’s World Championships, Kaur knows she has a long way to go and achieve success at the senior level. “Though I have not met Mirabai di, I often see her videos and observe her training. She has been a role model for all the youngsters and I aim to improve further to reach near her national record,” Kaur said.