Ando Ando

High hopes for Ando, Sarno

November 21, 2021 Ed Andaya 703 views

TOKYO Olympic veteran Elreen Ando and Asian champion Vanessa Sarno are ready and willing to follow the long and difficult road taken by the country’s first Olympic gold medal winner Hidilyn Diaz.

Ando, who finished seventh in the women’s 64 kg. event in the Tokyo Olympics last August, and Sarno, who captured two golds in the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Championships, believe there’s no other way to achieve stardom but follow Diaz’s tough career path.

“Handa naman kaming daanan lahat na kinakailangan para maabot yun pangarap namin. Handa namin sundan yun mga dinaanan ni ate Hidilyn,”chorused Ando and Sarno during the People Sports Conversations program hosted by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) last Thursday.

The road to Paris 2024 begins in the 2021 World Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Dec. 7-17, and Ando and Sarno hope to do well along with the rest of the Filipino campaigners under the Samahang Weighlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP).

The Filipinos will have to do it without Diaz, who went back to training in Malaysia last September, but begged off from the Tashkent qualifying competition.

“Yung training po namin everyday naman. Araw-araw naming binubuhat yun ia-attempt namin sa Uzbekistan para pagdating sa harap ng mga tao, confident kami,” explained Ando during the weekly session supported by PAGCOR, Milo, PCSO and Unilever.

Added Sarno: “OK naman din yung preparations sa Worlds. I train everyday under coach Nick (Jaluag).”

Both Ando and Sarno welcomed the tremendous pressure that comes with filling in the big shoe of Diaz, who made history by ending the country’s long 97-year wait for the Olympic gold.

The two young and promising female weightlifters turn pressure into inspiration

“Hindi pressure, but inspirasyon. Mas nakaka-inspire na madaming tao ang nag-aabang sa amin na sumunod sa yapak ni Hidilyn,” said Ando, the 23-year-old pride of University of Cebu.

A silver medalist in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila and 2020 Asian Championships in Tashkent, Ando claimed the experience of competing in the Tokyo Olympics makes her an even better athlete.

“Hindi namin iniisip yung pressure, gaya ng sinasabi ng ibang tao dahil kami ang inaasahan na susunod kay Ate Hidy. Mas nakaka-inspire, mas nakakapag-motivate sa amin para mas lalo pang galingan,” said Sarno, an 18-year-old find from Tagbilaran.

A product of Batang Pinoy, Sarno bagged three gold medals in snatch, clean and jerk and overall in the the 2020 IWF Online World Youth Championship hosted by Peru.

Joining Ando and Sarno in Tahskent are Mary Flor Diaz, Ellen Rose Perez, Margaret Colonia and Kristel Macrohon in the women’s division; and Fernando Agad, John Ceniza, Dave Pacaldo and John Tabique in the men’s category.

“These kids have been joining many international competitions ever since. And what Hidilyn went through, they are going through as well. They just have to work hard as well and win medals,” said SWP president Monico Puentevella in the same interview.

“They are really ripe for 2024 Paris Olympics. Elreen is really that goof. That’s why she was able to make it to Tokyo right away,” added Puentevella.