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Malleswari still chasing her dream of setting up an academy

It has been two decades since weightlifter Karnam Malleswari clinched a historic bronze in Sydney to become the first Indian woman athlete to win an Olympic medal.

The two-time World champion is still chasing a dream — to set up a weightlifting Academy in her home State of Andhra Pradesh — since eight years after she quit the sport.

The 45-year-old Malleswari says despite her best efforts for the past few years, she is not getting the kind of support expected for her academy plans.

“I don’t know the exact reasons. Somehow, things never really moved in the right direction. Sometime ago, I undertook an extensively tour of North-Coastal Andhra belt (Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam) which has lot of weightlifting talent.

“I even identified some of the best young prospects (boys and girls). But, no further progress was possible in realising my dream,” Malleswari told The Hindu from her home in Yamunagar, Haryana.

“Young talent needs support on all fronts and that’s why I am keen to set up an academy in Andhra and produce Olympic medallists.”

The champion, who had already started an academy in Yamunagar three years ago, said: “I will be meeting Andhra Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to brief him about my plans and I am hopeful of a positive response this time around.

“During the lockdown, athletes need psychological support to avoid mental fatigue and have to be positive. Individual training will be an integral part of any programme henceforth given the COVID-19 guidelines.”

Malleswari added: “The training methods are bound to change. Earlier, at least four to five used to train on one set. Now, only one can be allowed. But again this should not be an issue.”

On the making of a multi-lingual biopic on her illustrious career, Malleshwari said she will not act in the film but hopes it will be an inspiration for all boys and girls, especially in remote villages.

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