New Delhi [India], September 19 (ANI): On this day in 2000, weightlifter Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian female to win an Olympic medal in the history of the quadrennial event.
At the Sydney 2000 Olympics, after lifting 110 kg and 130 kg in the 'snatch' and 'clean and jerk' categories respectively to total 240kg, Malleswari won a prestigious Olympic bronze medal.
Remembering the historic day, the former weightlifter took to Twitter and wrote, "20 years ago at #Sydney2000.. The moment of glory, honor and pride to see the Indian tricolor go up and create history as India's first woman Olympic medallist. Years of sweat and blessings of my family, coaches and country."
The historic achievement made her an instant household name and the masses named her 'The Iron Lady'. She remains, till date, the only Indian woman weightlifter to have won an Olympic medal.
Before long success came calling. Malleswari placed third in the World Championships in 1993 and then followed up with consecutive 54kg world titles in 1994 and 1995, before bookending her run with another third-place effort in 1996.
On two occasions, in 1994 and 1998, Malleswari narrowly missed on Asian Games gold medals, having to settle for silver instead.
The success built up momentum as she headed to Sydney for the Olympics. While she did her country proud by earning a bronze, Malleswari had mixed feelings. She felt she missed out on gold due to a miscalculation within the Indian camp that suggested that she had to lift more than she needed for the top spot on the podium.
Malleswari was planning to make a comeback at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. However, the unfortunate demise of her father halted those plans.
She devised another return, at the 2004 Olympics in Greece, but uninspiring results made her finally call it a career.
Along the way, she was conferred with numerous prestigious awards by the Indian government, including the Arjuna Award (1994), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (1999), and the Padma Shri (1999).
Aside from that, Malleswari also founded the Karnam Malleswari Foundation, first-of-its-kind weightlifting, and powerlifting academy in an effort to see her beloved sport flourish in India. (ANI)