WEIGHTLIFTING champion Hidilyn Diaz did not only win the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, but she has also provided an inspiration to a new generation of Filipino sports heroes.
If she can do it in Tokyo, they can also do it, too.
One of the newest weightlifting champions now dreaming of becoming the next Hidilyn Diaz is Cebu pride Elreen Ann Ando.
“Gusto ko din po maging kagaya ni Ate Hidilyn. Sya po ang inspirasyon namin ngayon sa weightlifting,” said Ando during the 114th episode of the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) last August 12.
“Sa Paris 2024, gusto ko po uling lumaban at subukan maabot yun nagawa ni Ate Hidilyn sa Tokyo kaya mas lalo ako mag-sisikap,” added Ando during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
Ando managed a seventh-place finish in the women’s 64 kg event in her first Olympic appearance held last July 27 at the Tokyo International Forum.
The 22-year-old campaigner from University of Cebu recorded a 100kg in the snatch and 122kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 222kg in her debut in the world’s biggest sporting stage.
Maude Charron of Canada captured the gold with a total lift of 236kg.
Giorgia Bordignon of Italy bagged the silver (232kg), and Chinese-Taipei’s Chen Wen-Huei of Chinese-Taipei took the bronze (230kg).
Ando cleared 96kg in her first attempt in the snatch, but failed in her 99kg lift in the second.She bounced back, however, in the third attempt with her best 100kg snatch.
In the clean and jerk, Ando had a successful lift in the 118kg and only got to clear 122kg in the third attempt.
A day after Diaz made her historic lift for the gold and before Ando took her turn at the limelight, the Zamboanga champion went to Ando and gave her a valuable piece of advise.
“Before yun laro ko, parang nag-motivate sya sa akin.Sabi nya kakayanin ko din at makukuha ko din yun gold medal. Talagang lalo akong na-inspire lumaban dahil sa nagawa niya,” explained Ando, who booked an Olympic ticket after bagging two silvers and one bronze in the Asian Weightlifting Championships.
What is the best advise given to her by Diaz?
“Lagi nya po sinasabi hindi lang sa aming mga weightlifters kundi sa iba pang mga atleta, na mag-training ng maayos lagi. Yun mag-focus talaga sa pagsasanay. At mag-pray po lagi,” Ando, who also earned a silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, told People’s Tonight during the same forum.
When told about the prediction of Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella that she will be the next most important weightlifting star, Ando said she is ready to take the challenge.
May konting pressure din pero ang lagi kong iniisip ay yun mga goals ko, like yun makakuha ng gold sa Paris,” explained Ando, who started to compete in the Batang Pinoy and Philippine National Games.
“Before the Tokyo Olympics, talagang nagtutulungan lang po kami ng mga coaches ko sa Cebu na sina Ramon Solis, Gary Hortelano at Christopher Borreros. Pagbalik ko sa Cebu, tuloy lang uli ang training para Paris. The more na ma-improve ang mga binubuhat ko, gagawin ko para sa SEA Games, Asian Ganes at lalo sa Olympics.”
Ando is also thinking of training abroad as part of her preparations for international competitions.
“Pero sabi nga ng SWP, depende pa sa ngayon dahil sa pandemic, lalo na mas malala ang COVID ngayon dito sa atin.”
“Sa Cebu, yung mga equipment na ginagamit ko po sa training gym, parang kulang naman para sa preparation sa 2024 Paris Olympics. Yung iba na gusto naming gawin, hindi magawa kasi kulang pa sa gamit. Yung platform namin sa Cebu, pag malakas ang ulan, yung gym nagiging parang swimming pool.”
Ando also had few comments on reports that several athetes continue to use performance -enhancing drugs
“Parang makikita talaga namin sa mga atleta kung sino- sino ang gumagamit kasi makikita niyo naman sila bumubuhat tapos makikita din yung records na sobrang taas.
Parang masabi niyo na hindi na tao ang bumubuhat,” Ando said in a separate interview with PTV Sports.
She expressed apprehension on reports that weightlifting could be suspended in the Olympics because of doping controversy.
“Sad kasi parang iniisip namin na sa tagal ng panahon, baka mawala na ang weightlifting sa Olympics dahil sa hindi mabuting ginagawa ng ilang bansa.” with reports from Gab Ferreras