When 22-year-old Jhilli Dalabehera clinched the silver medal in the 49kg category of the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships (held alongside the World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in December 2021), her primary thoughts werent just about the gold medal she missed out on. Her final tally had been 167kgsa mere kilo short of Stella Peter Kingsleys 168kgs which won Nigeria the gold in this category. Instead, what upset Dalabehera more was the fact that Japans Takahashi Ibuki won the bronze medal at the World Championships with a total lift of 172kgs. Dalabehera had been surpassing said 172kgs recently, and had set a personal best record of 176kgs at the selection trials in Patiala in October 2021. Had she lifted as per her own personal best record, Dalabehera would have become the second Indian weightlifter since 2017, when Mirabai Chanu had clinched the gold at the World Championships.I had a bad start to the competition, when I failed in my first two snatch attempts of 73 Kgs, Dalabehera explained. I eventually managed to register a lift in my final attempt. This led to a reduced score in the Snatch where I could have lifted 78 Kgs or perhaps even more. Failing on the first lift is a big setback as it crushes your confidence and leaves you blank at the competition. It is important for weightlifters to learn to cope up with such adversity and bounce back strong.But despite her regrets, Dalabeheras performance has left a mark at the international event, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has managed to derail sporting events for almost two years! Plus, the lifters from India and other Commonwealth nations were fighting for more at this event in Tashkentthe gold medallists have earned a direct spot at the 2022 Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham. While Dalabehera hasnt automatically qualified for the event, her performance and determination show that she is gearing up to improve in the coming months.The Story Of A Lifter From OdishaThis is further proved by the journey she has undertaken from her hometown in Nayagarh, Odisha, all the way to Mumbai and the world. Hailing from a family with little means, Dalabehera displayed an early talent for sport. Her father, Biswanath Dalabehera, a farmer wasnt too encouraging, but 13-year-old Jhilli found support from her mother and elder sisters, and moved to Bhubaneshwar to pursue her career while staying at a sports hostel at the Kalinga stadium.In 2016, Dalabehera made her first splash on the weightlifting circuit by becoming the Youth National champion. A national camp later, she headed off to Malaysia for her first international competition, and hasnt looked back since. She won the silver at the Junior Commonwealth championships in 2016, bronze at the Junior nationals in 2016, gold at the Commonwealth Junior championships in 2017, bronze at the Junior World championships in 2018, and silver at the Asian Junior championships in the same year. She also confirmed her status as the best junior lifter in the country in the 48Kg category in 2018 by winning the Junior National championships in 2018.Jhilli Dalabehera, during her silver-medal winning lift at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships, Tashkent.Moving Ahead In The GameIn 2019, Dalabeheras career received a huge boost when she qualified for the athletic scholarship scheme offered by Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS). Apart from financial support for travel, Dalabehera got access to specialised care from the cutting edge sports science and medicine expertise team at the Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research centre in Mumbai. She could now access a dedicated physiotherapist, strength conditioning coaches, and specialist input in crucial areas such as rehabilitation, nutrition, psychology and data management and analysis. For an athlete of her caliber all set to perform internationally, this support is critical, and proved timely in her case.During our psychology intake session, I asked her what her long-term goal was. To which she replied- Medal in World Championships, and then the Olympics, remembers Maithili Bhuptani, the Lead Sport Exercise Psychologist at the Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre. She is an open individual who learns from instructions, accepts constructive criticisms without taking it personally and becoming upset. Jhilli is hardworking and disciplined, her main challenges are to remain positive and enthusiastic even when things are going badly.True to her word, Dalabehera clinched the gold medal at the Commonwealth Senior Championships in Samao and the South Asian Games in Nepal, both held in 2019, besides a silver at the Asian Championships. In 2020, she won gold at the Senior National championships in Kolkata and once the lockdown eased, she climbed to the top of the podium at the Asian Championships in Tashkent in 2021, and won bronze at the National championships in Patiala.Following In Mirabai Chanus FootstepsWhile she continued to taste success, Dalabeheras coaches felt that her performances in the 45kg category was stagnating because of the difficulty of maintain weight while improving her performance. The coaches decided to move her up to the 49kg category, in which Mirabai Chanu bagged a silver at the Tokyo Olympics. By making her personal best lift of 176kgs at the selection trials, Dalabehera proved that she is all set to be a worthy successor to Chanu.Moving up in weight categories can be challenging, but with the team at the Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre, the transition became easier for Dalabehera. Nutritionist Mihira Khopkar and physiotherapist Hariyali Barot helped her make the shift. Barots team of therapists also helped her recover from severe pain on her thigh just in time for the Tashkent championships.Inspired by Chanus feats, whom she first encountered at the 2018 Senior National championships, Dalabehera is now focused on the next stage of her career. With the RFYS program as a steadfast support in her corner, she has identified qualifying for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in September 2022 as her immediate target. However, the long term goal is a place on the most treasured podium of all The Olympics.