PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Vanessa Sarno displayed yet another dominant performance as she defended her title in record-breaking fashion in the women’s 71-kilogram weightlifting event of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games Monday at the Taekwondo Hall inside the National Olympic Stadium here.
Despite being the youngest lifter in the four-woman contest at 19, the prized recruit from Tagbiliaran, Bohol hardly showed any sign of struggle in resetting her SEA Games record with 105 kilograms in her third attempt in snatch and 120 kgs in clean and jerk for a total of 225 kgs en route to winning the gold medal.
The standing SEA Games record in snatch was 104 kgs that Sarno registered when she ruled the Hanoi meet in 2022.
She was supposed to lift 125 kgs in clean and jerk but had a change of heart upon seeing that the title was already in the bag.
Thipwara Chontavin of Thailand, a silver medalist in the 2018 Olympic Youth Games, settled for the silver medal after posting 95 kgs in snatch and 113 kgs in clean and jerk for a total lift of 208 kgs while Retsu Anggi of Indonesia took the bronze medal after tallying 91 kgs in snatch and 115 kgs in clean and jerk for a total lift of 206 kgs.
“I’m happy that I was able to give a good performance despite having a six-day gap from the Asian Championships,” said Sarno, who is fresh from competing in the 2023 Asian Weightlifting Championships in Jinju, South Korea to gain points for the Paris Olympics.
“I didn’t go for all the SEA Games records because I felt some pain in my knee after the competition in Korea so we just aimed for the gold medal only.”
Despite the absence of Hidilyn Diaz, the national lifters are still making an impact with Sarno and Elreen Ando (women’s 59-kg) emerging with gold medals while first-time SEA Games campaigners Angeline Colonia (women’s 45-kg), Lovely Inan (women’s 49-kg) and Rosalinda Faustino (women’s 55-kg) chipping in silver medals.
John Ceniza round out the Filipinos’ haul when he clinched the bronze medal in the 61-kg class.
Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas Monico Puentevella lauded the effort of the lifters as they still displayed their fighting spirit despite the absence of Diaz, the country’s first Olympic gold medalist.
“After a tiring but successful IWF Olympic qualifying competition in South Korea, our kids went directly to Sea Games Cambodia. A three-day rest in weightlifting is a big no-no,” Puentevella said in a statement sent to Daily Tribune.
“But knowing our country needed the medals, they forced themselves and fortunately, won four silvers and two record-breaking golds.”
The national lifters’ campaign, however, is far from over as former SEA Games champion Kristel Macrohon will compete in the women’s +71-kg event while John Tabique will vie in the men’s 89-kg class on Tuesday before the Games official close on Wednesday.