From Flying Kites to Flying High at the Commonwealth Games – The Story of Achinta Sheuli
Deulpur, as of Sunday midnight, was another unremarkable village with a population of 12,000 under Panchla sub-division of Howrah district in West Bengal. This is how Wikipedia describes the village in about three sentences. On Monday morning, the page had a subsection added, ‘Notable Personality’ and it is Achinta Sheuli. Achinta had not only lifted 313 kilograms of weight, but also brought his village out of obscurity and sparked people’s interest to know more about the 20-year-old, who came from a village famous for the work of Zari.
The flexibility of his thumb and index finger was not something Achinta sought to develop.
It was rather a constraint because his days were spent with a needle between his fingers and a brocade to design. It put food on the table.
And this food gave him the strength to lift weights.
“Our village is known for the work of Zari. So the three of us (him, mother and brother) also started doing embroidery work for contractors. winning India’s third yellow metal at the Commonwealth Games.
His father Jagat was a wagon rickshaw puller and at one time the sole breadwinner in the family of four, living in a chawl.
A fatal heart attack tore him away from Achinta in 2013, when he was just 11 years old.
“Everything including the clock has stopped for us,” he trailed off as he collected his thoughts.
“We didn’t expect this and we weren’t prepared for this. We were then forced to do zari (embroidery) work. My mother (Purnima) also did this,” he said .
Achinta was like any other child, carefree, carefree, oblivious to the cares of the world like any 10 year old.
He was happy to fly kites on ‘Makar Sakranti’ and hunt and pick up any that fell by the wayside. Makar sakranti in Bengal is known as “Poush Parbon”.
And that’s how his love for weightlifting began – chasing kites.
“I loved kite flying and admired the ‘poush paarbon’ every year to fly kites and hunt them with my friends. But I didn’t know I was going to land in weightlifting,” laughed Achinta .
“I was chasing a kite that landed at the gate of the vyamagar (desi version of the gym) where my ‘dada’ (older brother Alok) was training. Dada’s trainer (Astam Das) was very impressed with the wrist work while flying kites and asked him to take me the next day,” Achinta had a big smile plastered all over his face.
Sachin had Ajit and Achinta had Alok
In Indian sports, elder brothers have had a huge impact on the careers of famous sportsmen and it would be fair to say that every Sachin Tendulkar needs an Ajit by his side.
Achinta was lucky that his older brother Alok, who realized that his younger brother had more potential to shine and as it is the saga of Indian houses, sacrificed his own passion to build the career of the first .
“At first I came to train with my brother. I was quite young – maybe 10-11 – then I realized what was going on. But lifting weights was just fun back then” , he recalls.
Weightlifting took over from Alok.
“My brother then had to give up his weightlifting career, feeling that I was better than him. He gave Rs 600-700 every month as pocket money and made sure I continued to train,” he said. -he declares.
The days of struggle seemed over
Things started to fall into place after winning a medal at the junior national level in 2015 and joining the Army Sports Institute (ASI).
In the same year, he was included in the Indian national camp as he won a silver medal each at the Commonwealth Youth Championship (2015) and the Asian Youth Championship (2018).
In 2019, he won the Commonwealth Championship gold medal at the junior level and last year he won the same at the senior level.
“It has gradually improved. We have been able to renovate our house and live in a pucca house although some work is still in progress. But I am grateful that there are no more financial constraints.” Life, according to him, has been on a fast track, and he’s just trying to figure out everything that’s going on around him.
“Sometimes when I’m sitting alone I think about everything I’ve seen in life in these few years. But like they said, it’s all happening for good. I’m going to keep fighting and to improve myself,” he said.
Medal and celebration
Urged on by his trainer Vijay Sharma who was seen calming his nerves, patting the athlete’s head in the tunnel, Achinta ensured he had a ‘green light’ for 170kg within the time limit for a full lift of 313 kg, another CWG record for total weight.
It was well after 1 p.m. and most Indians were sound asleep when the national flag was raised amid cheers and the reverberation of the national anthem at the National Exhibition Center here.
But the lights were still on in the remote village of Deulpur.
“All my family members and a few villagers stayed awake. I’m grateful to have won. I hope this is just the beginning,” he signed.
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