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Young lifters chasing Olympic dream


If everything goes well, a new breed of lifters will be at the forefront of the Philippine delegation in the traditional parade of colors of the Paris Olympics on 26 July.

Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella is beaming with pride, saying that he is confident that Rosegie Ramos, John Fabuar Ceniza and Elreen Ando will make the cut to formally signal the dawn of a new era in the sport.

Although Ceniza and Ando are already assured of slots in the top 10 of the men’s 61-kilogram and women’s 59-kg events, respectively, they still have to wait for the qualification deadline set by the International Weightlifting Federation on 28 April.

On the other hand, Ramos is one place outside of the top 10 but her qualification still hangs in balance pending the decision of Belgian lifter Nina Sterckx, who qualified in both 49-kg and 59-kg events.

A fourth lifter in either Vanessa Sarno or Kristel Macrohon is expected to join the Olympic party depending on their performance in the women’s 71-kg event of the IWF World Cup on Sunday in Phuket, Thailand.

If ever, the four-man team could be the biggest Philippine delegation in weightlifting after Gregorio Colonia, Samuel Alegada and Ramon Solis competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Puentevella expressed elation, saying that the success of these young lifters is a result of their long-term program that started when Hidilyn Diaz qualified in the Beijing Olympics as a 17-year-old girl from Zamboanga in 2008.

“In God’s grace, we shall now have three or possibly four weightlifters in Paris,” said Puentevella, the only local sports executive who became commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission, chairman of the Philippine Olympic Committee and member of the House of Representatives.

“We started with one in Beijing and London, then two in Brazil and Tokyo, and now three or four to be confirmed officially by the International Weightlifting Federation in a month’s time. New kids on the block.”

The 20-year-old Ramos started the looming exodus to Paris.

After lifting 191 kgs in the IWF Grand Prix II in Doha last December, Ramos shone, registering 87 kgs in snatch, and 103 kgs in the clean and jerk for a total lift of 190 kgs to top Group B in the tournament that serves as the last qualifying event for the Summer Games.

Meanwhile, the 26-year-old Ceniza tallied his best lift in the qualifying period in the Phuket event with 132 kgs in snatch and 168 kgs in clean and jerk for a total lift of 300 kgs to gain a spot in the top 10 of the Olympic qualifiers.

The 25-year-old Ando also recorded her best lift in the World Cup after posting 100 kgs in snatch and 128 kgs in clean and jerk for a total lift of 228 kgs to gain the Olympic spot in the women’s 59-kg event over Diaz, an Olympic gold medalist in the 55-kg class in Tokyo.

Still, Puentevella believes that they won’t be in Paris if not for Diaz.

“Yet, even with the loss of our Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn last night, please remember that she inspired these new lifters,” said Puentevella, vowing to develop more lifters in the next edition of the Summer Games in 2028.

I promise we’ll have more lifters coming up, too for the Los Angeles Olympics 2028. Believe me,” he said.

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