Games & medals
Athens 2004 2004
|#AC||Weightlifting||Middleweight (≤63 kilograms)|
Sydney 2000 2000
|#3||Weightlifting||Light-Heavyweight (≤69 kilograms)|
Karnam MALLESWARI biography
Indian weightlifter Karnam Malleswari holds the distinguished honour of being the first woman from India to win a medal at the Olympics.
Her career’s crowning achievement came at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Lifting 110kg and 130kg in the ‘snatch’ and ‘clean and jerk’ categories respectively to total 240kg, Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to win a prestigious Olympic bronze medal.
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.
“This medal didn’t feel my own, but the whole country’s,” she says. “Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee called me later that day. He congratulated me and called me ‘Bharat ki beti’ (daughter of India).
Born in Andhra Pradesh’s Voosavanipeta hamlet, Karnam Malleswari began her training in the sport at the age of 12.
Before long, success came calling. Karnam 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, Karnam 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, Karnam Malleswari had mixed feelings. She felt she missed out on a 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 put paid to 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).
Karnam Malleswari got married to fellow Indian weightlifter Rajesh Tyagi in 1997, and the couple were blessed with a son in 2001. Today, she lives in Haryana, working full-time in a managerial role for Food Corporation of India.
Aside from that, Karnam Malleswari also founded the Karnam Malleswari Foundation, a first-of-its-kind weightlifting and powerlifting academy in an effort to see her beloved sport flourish in India.