Puentevella gains voice in clamor for weightlifting’s reinstatement
Initially scratched off by the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics program, weightlifting will get an opportunity this year to be reconsidered by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Philippines became a part of the negotiations to win back the trust of the IOC as local weightlifting chief Monico Puentvella was elected vice president of the Asian Weightlifting Federation (AWF) during the latter’s congress in Doha, Qatar.
The development gives the country an influential say in the continent and could get the message across on the global stage where the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), the global governing body in the sport, is looking to get back in the good graces of the IOC.
“From being AWF honorary president to vice president simply means I would like a more active role within the new AWF and IWF boards in making sure our beautiful sport doesn’t get scrapped in the 2028 LA Olympics and from all the Games thereafter,’’ the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president told the Inquirer.
The IOC has provisionally stricken off weightlifting from the LA program of 28 core Olympic sports along with boxing and modern pentathlon.
In an Associated Press report, the IOC said it felt the IWF hadn’t done enough to address ongoing doping concerns among some athletes.
“We have several women lifters who can make it to the Paris 2024 Olympics and the 2028 Olympics, all of them eager to follow the footsteps of Hidilyn (Diaz-Naranjo),’’ said Puentevella, who received an award for exemplary performance as AWF honorary president.
Puentevella, who became SWP president two decades ago when Diaz-Naranjo started building a career, attributed the award and his inclusion in the IWF Hall of Fame to the efforts of the country’s lifters, parents, coaches, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and private sponsors MVP Sports Foundation and Hans Sy as well as the SWP board and supporters.
“This new award, aside from the IWF Hall of Fame, comes after more than 20 years of perseverance and yet enjoying this Olympic sport that has given pride for our country,’’ said Puentevella.
Diaz-Naranjo put the country on the world weightlifting map with a gold medal in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and a silver medal in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games.
The four-time Olympian likewise became the world champion after sweeping the gold medals at stake in the women’s 55kg category during the IWF World Championships in Colombia last month.
“We cannot let the sport that gave us our first Olympic gold medal as a nation be removed from the Olympics,’’ said Puentevella.
An investigative report in June 2021 alleged that international weightlifting officials were corrupt and covered up doping cases for lifters who won Olympic and world championship medals.