Eyeing KIYG gold, Arunachal lifter Tario sets his priorities right
Arunachal weightlifter Markio Tario Rughu

Indore: Jaise bhi ho job toh leni hi hai (you need to take up the job by all means) – were the words of the farmer couple Markio Talut and Markio Yayang, when their teenage son Markio Tario Rughu paid a 15-day visit to his native Ruhi village of Tali, located around 71 km east of district headquarters Koloriang, after three long years.

To put things in context, Markio Tario, who recently turned 18, is one of the promising weightlifters in the country to be listed under the TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) Development and is currently a trainee at the famed Army Institute of Sports (ASI) Pune.

Tario recently won a silver and a bronze medal at the Senior National Championship held in Tamil Nadu earlier this month before heading home for a brief breather.

On return to Ruhi, Tario, the second of the seven siblings in the family, which includes four sisters, was happy to see his younger siblings growing up, but the responsibility of supporting the younger ones did strike his mind, and also the prospect of joining the Indian Army once he turned 18.

“It changed a lot since I last visited my village, my family has grown with the addition of the youngest sibling; he has just turned one. The other siblings have grown up and started using mobile phones. And on the back of my mind, I thought it was the best time for me to take up the job once I turned 18. Even my parents want me to continue performing and take up the job. They have a special liking for the men-in-uniform,” he told EastMojo in a candid conversation.

“I understand the kind of financial problems which I encountered during my childhood, so I hope my job will lessen the burden on the family. Also since 2020, I have been receiving a monthly stipend of Rs 25,000 from the TOPS, and I can’t thank them more. The amount received from the sports ministry is mostly spent on my training-related expenses,” he added.

Recalling an experience of the kind of financial struggles he has seen in recent times, Tario said, “It was during the first phase of the lockdown in 2020 when everyone left home. I also booked my train tickets but unfortunately, they got cancelled, and I hardly had money to buy a flight ticket home. Also, my village is another seven hours’ travel from the state capital of Itanagar.”

“Unable to find a helping hand, I decided to stay back at the hostel for the next seven months of the lockdown and managed food from the nearby hotels. There was nothing else to do, no training, no gym, I was just confined to the four walls of the room. On top of that, I didn’t have a mobile phone, so you can imagine my mental state,” he recollected.

An inspiring uncle

Tario took up the sport at the insistence of his maternal uncle, Yukar Sibi, an international-level weightlifter-turned-coach. Yukar is currently a coach at the AOC Secunderabad. “It was in 2015 when my uncle returned home for his holidays, he asked me to take up the sport. And seeing him lifting weights, I was fascinated and wanted to be as strong as him.”

In almost three years, Tario tasted success for the first time, after winning a bronze medal in the 65kg category at the 2018 Khelo India School Games in Delhi. He improved the medal’s colour in his next appearance at the event, albeit in the 67 kg category, and took home the silver from the Pune edition in 2019.

In Guwahati, Tario further improved to clinch the gold in the 67 kg category. He could not participate in the fourth edition of the Games held last year in Panchkula, but now, he wants to shine again in Madhya Pradesh.

Tario is physically and mentally prepared for the challenge and will aim to better his own record while also repeating his success from the Guwahati edition.

“Khelo India is a very good platform. The games benefit us a lot. If you win a medal, you get a scholarship. Also, the facilities here are good in comparison to other competitors. The competition level is good and all the athletes get a chance to learn a lot from each other,” he said.

In October 2022, Tario finished sixth at the Asian Weightlifting Championships held in Bahrain. He candidly admitted that he was overwhelmed by the presence of big names in his maiden international appearance, but since then has worked on his mental strength.

“I was a little scared there. I lifted 123 kg in snatch and 158 kg in clean and jerk, but I could have done better. Coming back, I worked on that weakness and have recovered from it. Now I will not be nervous on any platform,” he assured with a wink.

The youngster now harbours dreams of representing India in big-ticket tournaments like the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games before dreaming of competing at the Olympic Games.

“My future target is participating in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and win medals for the country. After that, I will aim for the Olympics. I want to inspire many like me to come forward and take up my sport,” he said before signing off.

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