Gururaja Poojary, who also goes by P. Gururaja, won the bronze medal for India in the men’s 61kg weight category with a total of 269kg. This is the nation’s second medal in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, at Birmingham. 

The weightlifter also won the silver medal in the men’s 56kg weight class at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

Poojari comes from a village Vandse in Udupi district in Karnataka. His father is a truck driver. He has five brothers.

He first tried his hand at wrestling, before being pushed into weightlifting by a watchful coach – Rajendra Prasad in SDM College, Ujire.

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“I wanted to be a wrestler after watching Sushil Kumar’s bronze in 2008 Olympics,” the 25-year-old said ahead of his July 30 game. “My coach reminded me how much this medal means to me and I have to lift it,” he says. His total of 249kg took him to silver. “I could have done better.”

In 2017, Gururaja claimed a Commonwealth Championship bronze in Australia. Gururaja, who began weightlifting in 2010, had won gold in the Commonwealth senior weightlifting championship, lifting a personal best of 249 kg (108+141) in Penang in 2016. Earlier that year, he had won gold at the South Asian Games. He had started out as a wrestler before switching to power lifting and then weightlifting.

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Poojari bagged a silver in the 56kg event at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday.

“I used to stay back in college so that I never missed classes. My family would support me financially in whatever way they could,” he says. “Then Vikas Thakur won a medal at the last Commonwealth Games and I was inspired. Even I wanted to win a medal.”