It is said that parents should not force their dreams on their children. But what if the parents merely ask their children to consider the dreams they had while growing up and let the children chart their own course?

Heading into the Commonwealth Games, India was confident of Gold, if not a medal, from a few athletes: Manipur’s Mirabai Chanu being one of them. And true to the champion she is, Chanu delivered Gold. Apart from those who follow Indian weightlifters closely, few gave a chance to Mizoram’s Jeremy Lalrinnunga. He had form and pedigree coming in, but few expected this 19-year-old to blow away the competition. And this, while struggling with back and knee injuries. After every lift, Jeremy would fall, almost scream in pain, and then force a smile on his face, thanking everyone in the audience. But he did not give up. 

When Jeremy won Gold at the Commonwealth Games, he finally made his father’s dream come true. Lalneihtluanga now had a son who wore India’s jersey to an international-level competition

This may have shocked the world, but what are the weights when compared to a lifetime of responsibilities and abject poverty at times?

To understand the story of Jeremy Lalrinnunga, now India’s prized Gold medal winner and record breaker, we would have to start with the story of Lalneihtluanga, his father. 

Lalneihtluanga: Good for nationals, but dreams unfulfilled

Lalneihtluanga wanted to become a professional boxer after he witnessed Zoramthanga win India’s first bronze medal at the Boxing World Cup in Mumbai in 1990. He started training at the age of eight. His hard work paid off, and he went on to compete in national-level competitions in Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam between 1990 and 1998, winning over five gold medals. 

While Lalneihtluanga initially trained him in boxing at eight years old, Jeremy chose to go in the field of weightlifting

Lalneihtluanga had one dream: to represent the country and wear India’s jersey at an international competition. 

Unfortunately, he could not achieve that. 

However, he refused to give up. As he started a family, Lalneihtluanga became a father of five sons and made up his mind that he would train his children to fulfil that dream. 

All his sons started training at an early age. But here is how Lalneihtluanga differed from other parents accused of forcing their children to pursue the dreams they had in their youth: Lalneihtluanga only aspired for his children to become sportspersons. 

He let them have the freedom to choose the sports discipline of their interest. 

Among his children, his second son, Jeremy Lalrinnunga, showed potential from a young age. “I trained him in boxing initially when he was eight years old. But he told me he would rather go in the field of weightlifting,” an emotional Lalneihtluanga told EastMojo

Jeremy: A prodigious talent who never knew when to give up

Jeremy started training in 2011, at the Weightlifting Academy States Sports Coaching Centre in Ainawn, Aizawl. In 2012, Jeremy was sent to train at the Army Sports Institute. He then joined the Boys Sports Company at the ASI in Pune city and started specialised training in weightlifting. Jeremy showed extreme perseverance and will from a young age, and Lalneihtluanga believes that led him to win the gold at Birmingham. He shared an example, saying, “In 2012, he came home from his training institute for a short break. We did not have any money to send him back. But he told me it would be enough if we give him fifty rupees. He said he would sit on top of a bus till Guwahati, and sleep next to the toilet on the train till he reaches Pune. Anytime he tells me he will achieve something, he does not give up until he achieves it.” 

At home, however, things were tough. Lalneihtluanga was supporting his family of seven with a meagre salary of Rs 4,000 a month, and they could hardly make ends meet. He would clean sewers and find odd jobs to earn extra rupees to provide for them. 

‘Will not let my brothers suffer’

“When Jeremy was a young boy, we were quite poor. He would pretend to fall asleep when riding a bus to his school so that he could save his bus fare for the next day. When he visited other kids’ houses in the neighbourhood with his brothers, they would stand all day and watch the other kids play on their computers. This has remained in his memory till today. He always says, ‘I don’t want my brothers to suffer like I did’, and he has made it his goal to provide for their every need with everything he has,” Jeremy’s mother, Lalmuanpuii Ralte told EastMojo

In 2019, Jeremy bought two cars for his uncle and his elder brother so they could find a means of livelihood by working as taxi drivers. He brought a bike for himself in Pune in 2019, but deciding that his brother would need it more, he sent it home. He has purchased two bikes, a Yamaha R15 V3 and a Yamaha R15 V1 for two of his brothers while he cycles to his training ground. He also gifted a computer to his brother. 

When Jeremy fulfilled his promise to his father and brought a brand new Maruti Suzuki Baleno for his parents

With a teary eye, his father told EastMojo of one particular instance where in 2013, he had gone to Guwahati to pick up Jeremy from the train station. “We had stopped in Shillong, and we came across some fancy cars. Jeremy saw me looking at those cars, and he told me, ‘dad, don’t envy these people: I will buy a nice car for you’.” A few weeks back, Jeremy fulfilled that promise and brought a brand new Maruti Suzuki Baleno for his parents. 

When Jeremy won Gold at the Commonwealth Games, he finally made his father’s dream come true. Lalneihtluanga now had a son who wore India’s jersey to an international-level competition. But Jeremy did something equally, if not more important, in 2016. He saved his father’s life.

‘Stop drinking, watch me represent India’

“I was drinking a lot,” shared Lalneihtluanga. “My health was deteriorating and I was not expected to live much longer. But Jeremy told me, ‘dad, you have to stop drinking otherwise, you won’t get to watch me wear India’s jersey at an international game.’ And in 2016, when he won a silver medal at the World Youth Championships, I quit drinking, and I have remained sober till today,” said Lalneihtluanga. 

In 2016, Jeremy competed in the 56kg category at the World Youth Championships and won a Silver. In 2017, he competed at the Commonwealth Junior Championship and won Gold. In 2018, Jeremy competed at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina and was the first Indian to bring home a gold medal. 

Jeremy’s family, consisting of eight members, continue to live in a humble government quarter in Ainawn Locality in Aizawl. On the day of the games, around 50-odd people from the neighbourhood, young and old, gathered in their living room, sitting on the sofas and on mats on the floor to cheer for Jeremy.

The 19-year-old would remember the people cheering for him when he took a tumble after lifting a clean and jerk. He told a Vanglaini reporter, “When I fell, I felt so bad that tears started rolling down. I remembered my family and the people supporting me back home. I knew they had high hopes for me, and I felt very discouraged, thinking I would not be able to take home a medal for them. But in this difficult time, I realised the power of people’s prayers for me and witnessed God’s moving power.”

Also read | Jeremy Lalrinnunga smashes 2 world records en route to Gold at CWG 2022


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