Weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga: Driven by grit, conquering adversity with panache

Mizoram’s Jeremy Lalrinnunga has overcome huge challenges in life to become a Youth Olympics and Commonwealth Games 2022 champion.

By Rahul Venkat
Picture by Getty Images

When Jeremy Lalrinnunga completed his first clean-and-jerk attempt (154kg) at the Commonwealth Games 2022, he fell to the floor with cramps in his thigh.

A few minutes later, the Indian weightlifter added six kgs and attempted 160kg. He successfully lifted it, with visible strain, and after letting out a roar, he collapsed to the ground in pain again. He had already guaranteed himself a gold medal with a Games record total lift of 300kg (having earlier lifted 140kg in the snatch).

Yet, Jeremy Lalrinnunga returned for his final clean-and-jerk attempt, going for 165kg. He could not pull it off but that determination to push himself to greater heights is what brought Jeremy Lalrinnunga the biggest achievement of his young career till date.

These whirlwind 10 minutes at Birmingham, in a nutshell, perfectly sums up Jeremy Lalrinnunga’s grit and determination in face of adversity - a trait that truly makes him special.

Where is Jeremy Lalrinnunga from?

Jeremy Lalrinnunga was born on October 26, 2002, in Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram, a small state in India’s north-east..

Sport was always a part of his life as his father Lalneihtluanga was a boxer, who won national medals at the junior level. Jeremy Lalrinnunga often accompanied his father to training sessions and was contemplating taking it up himself before discovering weightlifting, the sport in which he would eventually make his name in.

“My father was a boxer. He used to take us to his training sometimes and I picked up boxing slowly. It was great until I saw weightlifting. I saw my friends doing it and I thought this is a game of strength and I need to do it,” Jeremy Lalrinnunga told Scroll.in.

Jeremy was eight years old at the time and a year later, in 2011, Jeremy Lalrinnunga’s journey in weightlifting began.

The youngster would take part in selection trials for the Army Sports Institute and made the cut without any hassle. Jeremy Lalrinnunga would shift base to Pune in 2012 to train and laid the foundation for what would become an incredible career.

Jeremy Lalrinnunga’s Youth Olympic medal

When he was 13 years old, Jeremy Lalrinnunga stunned the world by winning the silver medal in the 56 kg category at the 2016 junior world weightlifting championships in Tbilisi, Georgia and followed it up with another silver at the Asian junior championships. It was also the year he joined the Indian national camp.

The next year, he added another silver medal at the worlds and won golds at the Commonwealth youth and junior championships.

However, it was 2018 which propelled Jeremy Lalrinnunga into national consciousness.

At the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Jeremy Lalrinnunga lifted a total of 274 kgs (124 kg snatch and 150 kg clean-and-jerk) to win the gold medal in the 62 kg category. He became the first Indian to ever win a gold medal at the Youth Olympics.

Jeremy Lalrinnunga went on to win the 2019 Asian youth championships and set a national record in the 67 kg with a lift of 306 kg in the same year.

Bouncing back from injury

While his career and reputation were on the upsurge, Jeremy Lalrinnunga faced some unfortunate circumstances. After COVID-19 disrupted the 2020 season, the young weightlifter had to undergo surgery to remove a cyst from the back of his knee in 2021.

Though he returned to competition, Jeremy Lalrinnunga almost went the whole year without winning a medal. He finished eighth at the 2020 Asian championships (held in 2021) and seventh at the 2021 world championships.

Jeremy finally won gold at the 2021 Commonwealth Championships in December that year and it seemed like the best way to end the year.

A Commonwealth Games winner

However, during a training session in February 2022, he had an unfortunate spinal injury, which looked like it would rule him out of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Jeremy, though, fought through the pain. He devoted himself to the recovery process - undergoing physiotherapy sessions and working on regaining his strength.

Probably the most important step he took was changing the wallpaper on his phone screen to one of the CWG 2022 gold medal.

“When the design of the Commonwealth Games medals was released, I immediately downloaded the picture from social media. I saved the gold medal as my wallpaper. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning, and it's the last thing I see before I go to sleep. It is a huge motivation for me,” Jeremy Lalrinnunga told Sportstar.

That motivation and hard work certainly paid off on July 31, 2022 when Jeremy lifted a Games record 300 kg to win the coveted Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham.

“After the Youth Olympics, I haven’t achieved such a big thing like this. This is my first medal at senior level competition and I have had to face a few injuries. People kept asking me, ‘When are you going to bring medals?’ And I kept working hard to win a medal for my country. I couldn’t give the performance as I expected but I’ve achieved what I wanted to,” Jeremy Lalrinnunga said after his podium finish in the men’s 67 kg category.

The next step for Jeremy is the upcoming world championships in December 2022. 

After that, Jeremy will have a big challenge on his hands as he will have to move up to the 73 kg category to be eligible to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics, where there is no 67 kg category. He will also have to compete with compatriot Achinta Sheuli, the CWG gold medallist in the category, for that spot.

Knowing Jeremy, he will have already envisioned that goal and mapped out a plan for getting there.

Jeremy Lalrinnunga achievements and records

  • World Junior Championships 2016 - Silver medal
  • Asian Junior Championships 2016 - Silver medal
  • World Junior Championships 2017 - Silver medal
  • Commonwealth Junior Championships 2017 - Gold medal
  • Commonwealth Youth Championships - Gold medal
  • Asian Junior Championships 2018 - Bronze medal
  • Asian Youth Championships 2018 - Silver medal
  • Youth Olympics 2018 - Gold medal
  • Asian Youth Championships 2019 - Gold medal
  • Asian Junior Championships 2019 - Silver medal
  • Commonwealth Championships 2021 - Gold medal
  • Commonwealth Games 2022 - Gold medal
  • National record and personal best - 306 kg (140 kg+166 kg)
  • First Indian to win gold medal at Youth Olympics

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