There is a special category of people who devote their lives for the betterment of others and make sure their contribution helps towards the progress of the country.
Indian National Coach Vijay Sharma is one such personality. He started as a weightlifter himself, but fortune didn’t favour him as a player. Looking back today, he doesn’t have any regrets over his career.
Vijay Sharma is the National head- coach of the Indian Weightlifting Team and here is his story towards shaping exciting talents.
How will you define your career as a weightlifter?
Though I was in the National Camp for 6-7 years, I participated in only 1 International Tournament so I would say I wasn’t that successful in my weightlifting career. I faced a lot of problems and difficulties due to which I couldn’t perform well.
Actually I started weightlifting at a very old age. When I took admission in the college, I got attracted towards Weightlifting. Firstly I was into Athletics. I used to participate in the 400m event. Once I saw some seniors doing Weightlifting in the college and that’s when I decided to shift.
As you said, you have faced difficulties and hurdles in your career. So what were the things which restricted you from being at the pinnacle?
My height was above 6 ft and also my body weight was not up to the mark that time. I lacked the knowledge that body weight should be proportional to the height. I should have increased my weight at that time. Due to this imbalance, I faced waist injuries and a thigh injury which unfortunately forced me to quit Weightlifting.
Facilities and equipment was what I lacked during my career. I had to travel a long distance to reach the National Camp at Nehru Stadium. A lot of time was consumed in travelling and the coaching provided to us was not up to the mark. If I had the proper guidance and facilities, I could have reached some other level.
Currently you are coaching the Indian National Team. How did you start your coaching career?
In 2002, I played my last competition. There was a gym in my area at that time and I used to do my fitness at that place. Being a senior player many young weightlifters came up to me for some quick tips. That’s when I can say that my coaching career started. I used to train the weightlifters at the local club in the city.
In 2012 I was called for the Junior National Camp. The reason that I was selected for the post was that Uttar Pradesh was the Junior National Champion for the last 3 years and I was the Head Coach of UP. My career as a coach of the Indian Team started there.
In 2013, I was appointed as the Coach of the Senior Team. India had brilliant results in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. So I was sent to Budapest for International Coaching Course which was of 3 months.
What made you decide to coach the weightlifters?
I was also a weightlifter and I had faced problems in my career. I thought the upcoming players shouldn’t face the same problems and should get the maximum exposure.
I was in the reserve team since 1994 CWG. The real exposure I received was in 2000 and that span of 6 years was difficult. With the thought that each and every athlete should get equal opportunity and correct exposure, I decided to start coaching.
While coaching, I mainly focus on the practical knowledge and its implication. Being a weightlifter, I know what kind of mistakes people do, and to avoid those mistakes, I focus on improvement. The equipment and facilities available are amazing and thus it helps me to raise the standards of Weightlifters.
How does the Army help the talents or the Weightlifters from the Army affect the overall process and the results?
The contribution of the Army is massive in Indian Weightlifting. The Army collects raw talents; they teach them the basics and train them to the National Level. I have even requested ‘The Railways’ to carry out one such process, because they also have a lot of talented people and they need the correct opportunity.
The young children from SAI (Sports Authority of India) are extremely capable and their performances are definitely noteworthy.
Khelo India was a great initiative for the young sportsperson. Many talents were picked up by various authorities and their careers are being shaped.
Who are the players from whom you have maximum hopes for the upcoming tournaments?
In the National Camp, I have a core group of 13 weightlifters. The group involves more of youngsters and more efforts are taken on them.
The group involves Jeremy, Achinta Sheuli, Rahul Venkat, Pardeep Singh, Muthupandi Raja and so on. The basic factor is these children are young and talented.
The main aim in front of my eyes is 2020 Olympics, 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2024 Olympics.
What keeps you motivated as a coach? How do you prepare yourself for the big matches or tournaments?
Being a coach I need to be prepared and strong. I know what kind of emotions stuck a player before an important face off. Firstly I tell myself that winning and losing are part and parcels of the game. You shouldn’t get disappointed even if you lose. Failure is not going to be there with you forever.
What are the essentials for being a successful weightlifter?
Firstly I would suggest you to practise. You cannot expect good results if you don’t practise. Proper fitness and maintenance of diet is necessary. If you eat the correct amount of healthy food, you are more bound to stay fit.
If you lack anywhere in these things, you may face an injury.
Improvements according to weight categories also matter a lot. So there are different training schedules for different players. The necessities of each weight category are different and thus the players train according to that plan.
How is the training schedule of the weightlifters in the National Camp?
We make sure that the training sessions in a day are approx. 4.5- 5 hours a day. 2.5 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.
The training is scheduled and planned with the number of sets to be done during the time.
The intensity and the timing of training depend on the importance of the tournament we are training for.
The condition of the body also defines the time and the intensity of the training. We cannot force the body to train more than its capacity.
Excessive training can cause an injury. Wrist, back and knee are the parts which can get injured.
What kind of role does the Indian Government and the Indian Weightlifting Federation play?
Indian Government and the federation are extremely supportive and help us a lot in each and everything. They provide us with all the facilities and services and only hope that we bring medals for the country. Without their support nothing is possible.
Along with the Indian Government, the state governments like Odisha, Manipur and Maharashtra has excellent contribution in Weightlifting. Maximum players in the National Camp are from these states.
Where do you Indian Weightlifting in upcoming years?
You can definitely see the development of results in the last few years. The results of 2018 CWG were better than 2014 CWG.
So I can definitely say that there is a process which has started. This is the first time that India is actually competing for a medal in Weightlifting at the Olympics.
According to me, this time we can expect 1or 2 medals, but in the upcoming years, the number will go up to 4-5 medals.
This is a long process and it will surely take time.
What is the message you would like to give to the Indians?
I would like to tell the Indian Parents that don’t believe in fake myths like children shouldn’t lift weights at a young age. This is not the case.
11-12 years is the right age to start the sport and proper guidance can take them to high levels. No one can deny the fact that education is important but playing a sport should be given equal priority.
Let’s take a rapid fire round.
• Olympics or World Championships?
In our game Olympics has more importance but World Championships are equally difficult and winning a World Championships Medal is more difficult than winning an Olympic Medal
• Senior Weightlifters Success or Junior Success?
I get more happiness and more satisfaction with the success of youth players. The future is bright and this is the main reason I choose Youth Success.
• Your career as a coach or as a player with all the facilities provided to you?
“If I would have received all the facilities I would choose my career as a weightlifter over my career as a coach.”
Wow, what a wonderful story Vijay Sharma has! He is trying his level best to make sure that the upcoming Weightlifters don’t face any problems and succeed in their career. His experience and his guidelines are proving to be extremely important for the players and he is the perfect fit for the post of National Coach.
We salute such a great personality !