Moment of the Year: The agony behind the glory of Jeremy Lalrinnunga at CWG

Eddie Keogh/Getty Images

As a memorable 2022 draws to end, ESPN India picks ten images that tell the story of the most extraordinary Indian sports moments witnessed over the year. In this third part, we write about Jeremy Lalrinnunga at the Commonwealth Games.

That's pain you see in the frame there. You'd imagine it to be adrenaline -- lifting more than twice your bodyweight over your head would release quite the quantity of that -- but it isn't quite that. Jeremy Lalrinnunga, 67kg of tightly bound muscles and sinews, has just lifted 150 kilograms of cold metal onto his chest, then clean above his head, elbows locked in place. The moment he drops it, the moment captured in this frame, he lets out an almighty roar. Then he crashes down onto the floor, holding his elbow, his body tucking into itself, his face contorted in pain.

A minute later he would get back on the stage and do the exact same thing. Lift, roar, and writhe. This time with 160kg. He'd then crawl back off before coming out again, trying a 165kg lift, failing and crying out in agony.

What he's done -- lifting 160kg in the clean and jerk, and 140kg in the snatch -- is enough to win him gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

If you just looked at those numbers, just the fact that he had won the whole thing, you wouldn't really be able to comprehend the magnitude of it. Sure, lifting a combined 300 kg sounds impossibly hard, winning gold in an international tournament isn't exactly a cakewalk... but try doing all that when you have no real idea what's going on.

After the lift, Jeremy would tell journalists he didn't know what weights he was lifting in the clean and jerk, because he was in that much pain. "My coach calculated and set the weight. Of course, I trusted him," he said. So that successful lift of one hundred and sixty kilograms? Done on auto-pilot, relying purely on muscle memory, and while suffering immense pain.

Let that sink in for a moment.

After the event, Jeremy could barely stand, collapsing when posing for a photograph and later doing media interactions with his legs resting on another chair. Cramps, he said, in his inner thighs. The screaming had come from that agony. Earlier in the day, when he had lifted 140kg in the snatch -- that explosive lift where you take the bar from the floor to above your head in one smooth motion -- he had barely uttered a sound. Stomp onto stage, lift, hold, drop, smile, stomp off stage. That was it.

The ease of it all in that first round was impressive, but the sheer champion-will to power through the second was something else. You could see that he had hit a pain barrier, and instead of stopping, he had dug deep and found strength where there ought to have been none.

"I suffered a lot today," he would say, before grinning at the gold medal that hung around his neck. 'It was worth it' went unspoken. This image served as the crystalisation of that, of all the pain that paves the long road to glory.