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Ajinth finds life's answers in powerlifting

The Asian gold was reward for long years of sweat and toil. Not one to rest on his laurels, Ajinth is set to conquer new worlds. STAN RAYAN profiles this promising powerlifter.


Ajinth L Dennison(centre) savours his moment of glory at the Asian Powerlifting Championship in Dinghal, South Korea.

SIX YEARS ago, Dennison Das feared that his son could be skipping his pre-degree classes frequently. For Ajinth's books returned home virtually new everyday. After a bit of snooping around, he realised that the Ernakulam Gymnasium was turning out to be junior's favourite haunt.

The worried father was relieved that his son was only pumping iron, for his family was packed with bodybuilders and fitness freaks, but he was not keen on Ajinth L. Dennison taking up powerlifting as a serious sport. He had planned something more popular like the shot put or the discus for the teenager.

And Dennison Das did not regret the `bunking' for long. For despite being a mediocre student, Ajinth had a leading Kochi college, the Sacred Heart's, literally rolling out a red carpet for him.

``I am sure his marks would not have taken him anywhere near Sacred Heart's. But his powerlifting and bodybuilding acts did,'' said the proud father.

Dennison now has good reason to feel prouder, to walk a bit taller. For Ajinth won a gold medal, in the junior men's 60-kg division, at the Asian Powerlifting Championships in Donghae, South Korea, the other day.

And though Kerala has a rich tradition in the sport, the Kochi youngster was the only one from the State to mine gold at the Continental meet this year. And, mind you, Ajinth was just making his international debut.

But the national junior champion was confident of striking gold even before he left home. In fact, his only worry was how to raise funds for the tour. This has often been the problem with powerlifting. A case of talent aplenty but meagre funds. Thankfully, the Sports Minister K.Sudhakaran, the Sacred Heart College boys and a few prominent businessmen from the City, like V M Rafeeque and B J Antony chipped in.

``And when the finance problem was sorted out, I thought I'd get the Asian record, for it was close to my personal best. Unfortunately, I had a running stomach during the championship and it drained me out. I also lost my rhythm,'' said Ajinth, who has just finished his BA (Economics) exams from the Sacred Heart's, Thevara. Still, his efforts were good for gold.

Even as he savoured his hour of glory, Ajinth took a small stroll down memory lane. A six-year-old lane of sweat and toil.

One of the first men the youngster noticed when he first stepped into the Ernakulam Gym was international Jentry Francis. The two soon became good friends. "In fact, you can say Jentry was my first coach,'' said the 22-year-old from Palluruthy.

Jentry, a flamboyant showboat in his heydays, was just taking his first few steps to fame then. He was adjudged the `Strongman of India' around that time in Chennai and later went on to win honours at the Asian and World championships. Which meant that Ajinth was not only in safe hands, he also only had to look at his friend for inspiration. And when Jentry left for Mumbai, he had other reputed stars like international A.G.Raju and Durgadas to guide him.

Ajinth has had a few strong men in his family. His maternal grandfather Josai, a businessman at Marthandam in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari District, used to tease and challenge the circus weightlifters that often came to his town to perform. And Ajinth, his grandpa's favourite, watched with admiration and awe as the veteran put many reputed stars to shame. So, the seeds of the sport were sown into him quite early in life.

Yes, it could be all in the genes. And once he got the basics right, Ajinth was quick to climb his way to the top at the university and State meets in the power event which is said to be the ultimate strength sport with its three events, the bench press, dead lift and squat. And last December, Ajinth won his maiden Junior National (for under-23 men) gold in Bhopal.

Ajinth, a typical Leo, is basically an aggressive person, and has even got into a few fisticuffs with his college-mates but there was a distinct change in him early this year. He went spiritual.

``A few years ago, I was unwell and missed the district, State and the National meets. I was shattered for I was in good form. And after that, often before competition, I used to turn tense and edgy. I even used to get upset and angry with my mother for very small things,'' he said.

But this year, after attending a series of charismatic meetings at `Spiritual Wings' , he turned a new leaf. Agitation vanished and in its place came a strange pervading peace. He was able to channel all his bottled-up aggression into powerlifting. And consistency and excellence soon gave him company.

His next goal is the Junior World, which comes up in Moscow later this year. The youngster has already begun his preparations with former Asian champion Sreekumar and current Asian star, Tamil Nadu's N.Anbu, guiding him. He trains for two hours every evening at the Ernakulam Gym now.

The dead lift is his forte and the squat his weak link. ''I'll have to work on these two events for there is a lot of scope for improvement. And if the powerlifting magazines which I have are

right, I'm close to the junior world record in the dead lift,'' he said.

Ajinth sure has exciting worlds to conquer.

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