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Ceniza wants to make history

JOHN Ceniza seeks to become the first Filipino male lifter to win a medal in the Summer Olympics. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PSC-POC MEDIA POOL

Weightlifter John Fabuar Ceniza will be training his sights on the medal podium when he officially qualifies for the Paris Olympics.

Ceniza, 26, made no secret his intention to make history by becoming the first Filipino male lifter to win a medal in the biggest, most prestigious sports conclave in the world.

The pride of Cebu City already has a foot on the Olympics after finishing fourth in the men’s 61-kilogram event of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup in Phuket, Thailand last Tuesday. He made a lot of heads turn when he registered a total lift of 300 kgs.

The IWF is now in the process of tabulating the final Olympic ranking and is expected to announce the 10 competitors after the deadline of the qualification period on 28 April. Ceniza is safely inside the Magic 10 at No. 6.

“Train hard every day, forget your problems, that’s the way to prepare and that’s what I did,” Ceniza said in an interview with the IWF.

“It’s my dream to be an Olympian, and to be the first man to win a weightlifting medal for the Philippines.”

Since the country started to compete in the Summer Games in 1924, only Hidilyn Diaz emerged with medals in weightlifting.

She clinched the silver medal in the women’s 53-kg event of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games before eventually winning the gold medal in the women’s 55-kg in the Tokyo Games in 2021.

Diaz is shooting for a return ticket to the Summer Games as she is competing in a star-studded field that includes Filipino Elreen Ando in the women’s 59-kg class at press time.

So far, all 13 Filipino male weightlifters did not make it to the podium in the previous editions of the Olympics.

The closest the Philippines got to winning an Olympic medal in men’s weightlifting was in the Helsinki Summer Games in 1952 in which Rodrigo del Rosario finished fourth in the men’s 60-kg category with a total lift of 317.5 kgs.

Ceniza said he focused more on his technique in the World Cup as he is just getting back from a left hip flexor injury he got last December.

“I’m still recovering so I relied more on the technique of my lifts. I’m hoping to finally get in,” Ceniza said in a television interview.

Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella said he is confident that Ceniza is going to make it to the Paris Olympics that will run from 7 to 11 August at the South Paris Arena 6.

Puentevella is also hoping Rosegie Ramos could finally get her spot in the Summer Games as well as she is currently outside of the top 10 in the Olympic rankings.

“He can get into the top 5 so he’s sure to get in. We’ll wait for final confirmation,” Puentevella said.

“We’re waiting for Rosegie to get in.”

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