Challenge-embracing PH weightlifters to prove worth in Tashkent World meet | Inquirer Sports
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Challenge-embracing PH weightlifters to prove worth in Tashkent World meet

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 05:25 AM December 03, 2021
Vanessa Sarno and Elreen Ann Ando (right) are both being groomed for Paris.

Vanessa Sarno and Elreen Ann Ando (right) are both being groomed for Paris. — CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Rather than shy away from it, lifters Elreen Ando and Vanessa Sarno have embraced the attention after they were labeled heir apparent to follow the success trail of Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

“When people say that we should follow her (Diaz) footsteps, it only inspires me to do better,’’ said Ando before the national weightlifting team left on Wednesday night for the 2021 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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Much is expected from Ando, who personally witnessed the golden breakthrough of Diaz for Team Philippines in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, to deliver together with Sarno and the eight other Filipino lifters in the Dec. 7 to 17 world meet.

“I don’t feel the pressure whenever I’m told that I should follow her (Diaz) success. In fact, it motivates me to perform at my best in every tournament,’’ said the 18-year-old Sarno, the reigning Asian champion in the women’s 71-kilogram category.

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In top form

Backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, the anticipation for the 13-man weightlifting team to seize medals in the world champs, the first qualifying meet for the 2024 Paris Olympics, is high despite the absence of Diaz.

Ando sees action in the women’s 59kg, Kristel Macrohon has been entered in the same weight class as Sarno, while the forecast is likewise praiseworthy for Mary Flor Diaz (women’s 45kg), Elien Rose Perez (49kg) and Margaret Colonia (64kg).

“These kids never stopped training even during the height of the pandemic. They have prepared for this (world championship) for long time,’’ said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella.

“They are going through the same master plan that we laid out for [Hidilyn] Diaz. They have to bring home medals. They have to strive and strive for their own good,’’ added Puentevella. “I know these kids will go to [the] Paris [Olympics in 2024].’’

Hidilyn not ready

Although Diaz will be skipping the world championship, Puentevella said there are other tournaments that serve as Olympic qualifiers along the way, the coming Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, next year, among them.

Diaz went to Malaysia recently in an effort to jump-start her bid in the world champs, but suddenly begged off from joining the trip to Tashkent, citing the short time frame to get back into great shape.

“She’s not ready, but I know Hidilyn will be back,’’ said Puentevella.

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The IWF requires lifters from national teams all over the world to play in six sanctioned tournaments that will serve as Olympic qualifiers to earn a shot at making it to Paris.

Fernando Agad is entered in the men’s 55kg, John Febuar Ceniza in the 61kg, Dave Lloyd Pacaldo in the 67kg and John Dexter Tabique in the 96kg. Joining them are coaches Robert Colonia, Richard Pep Agosto and Christopher Bureros.

“They are all capable of winning the gold medal in their respective weight classes after pushing themselves really hard in training,’’ said Puentevella, whose national sport association bagged the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the nation through Diaz’s heroics.

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TAGS: 2021 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championship, Elreen Ando, Tashkent Uzbekistan, Vanessa Sarno
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