Ando, Sarno trekking path Olympic champ Hidilyn once took | Inquirer Sports
WEIGHTLIFTING

Ando, Sarno trekking path Olympic champ Hidilyn once took

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 05:10 AM December 17, 2021

Philippines’ Elreen Ann Ando competes in the women’s 64kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (AFP FILE PHOTO

Whenever Elreen Ando and Vanessa Sarno see action, they consistently cause feelings of nostalgia for weightlifting chief Monico Puentevella.

And despite both lifters finishing out of the podium in the recent 2021 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, their performances, Puentevella said, bring back memories of the torturous process a certain athlete went through—a process that ended with an Olympic gold.

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“They remind me of Hidilyn (Diaz) in her early days,” said Puentevella. The Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president was referring to the country’s first Olympic champion in history, whose triumph in Tokyo changed Philippine sports forever. “And considering that the weather was down to five degrees (Celsius), I’m proud of them,’’ added Puentevella.

The 18-year-old Sarno, the current Asian champion in the women’s 71 kilogram category, nearly landed the bronze after she wound up tied with Sweden’s Patricia Strenius and Olivia Reeves of the United States, all of them lifting a total weight of 231 kgs.

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Sarno, however, lost the tiebreaker and settled for fifth place.

Ando, projected as another Diaz heir apparent together with Sarno, likewise ended fifth in the women’s 59kg after the Tokyo Olympian was unable to clear her last two attempts.

Entered in the same weight class as Sarno, Kristel Macrohon placed seventh after lifting a total of 228kg. The 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist tied Sarno in the snatch at 103kg, but managed just 125kg in the clean and jerk.

“Ando and Macrohon failed in their last two lifts, efforts that could have meant a gold,’’ said Puentevella,

The former chair of the Philippine Olympic Committee is now counting Olympic berths for Paris in 2024, counting on the likes of John Febuar Ceniza (men’s 61kg) and Fernando Agad (55kg) to hurdle the qualifiers for the next Games.

“If eight athletes are qualified for the Paris Olympics, we already have five coming up—Sarno, Macrohon, Ando, Ceniza and Agad. They all placed in the top eight with Sarno and Agad as first-timers in the world championships,’’ said Puentevella.

Backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, the local weightlifting association nurtured Diaz into an Olympic champion, 13 years after qualifying for her first Olympics in 2008 in Beijing.

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TAGS: Elreen Ando, Vanessa Sarno, Weightlifting
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