Ando’s mindset key in Tokyo Olympics

Published June 17, 2021, 4:35 PM

by Waylon Galvez

More than the daily grind in training, Filipino weightlifter Elreen Ann Ando is focused on setting her mindset when she competes in next month’s Tokyo Olympics.

Ando said that while it was a surprise she earned a spot in the Olympics via the continental rankings, she wants to give it her best shot for a good showing in the 64-kilogram women’s division in weightlifting.

“Masaya, hindi ko din in-expect na mag-qualify,” said Ando during the online program ‘People Sports Conversations’ of the Philippines Sports Commission (PSC) Thursday, June 17.

“Bigla ako na-pasok sa No. 12 (of the 64-kg division). Ang goal ko na mag-laro sa 2024 Olympics. Pero training ko dito nag-start na, yung mga coaches naka-handa na din, nag-start na kami.”

PSC Chief of Staff and national training director Marc Velasco said the government sports agency would be providing sports psychologists to Ando to help her prepare with the mental aspect of competing in the Olympics.

Velasco said that this is crucial as Ando is not just a participant, but a competitor with a legitimate shot at a podium finish.

“We’ll help her on than aspect. Kilala naman natin si Elreen na palaban talaga, tulungan natin sya dun sa mental side competing in the Olympics, against the best in the world,” said Velasco.

Ando’s coaches Gary Hortelano, Chris Bureros and Ramon Solis also believe that Ando is physically ready for the Tokyo Olympics. It’s just a matter of having the right mindset in competing on the biggest stage in sports.

“Hindi naman din kami na-hinto sa training. Before the OQT nag-training na,pagkatapos naman ng OQT tuloy pa din dahil nga naghahanda din tayo para sa darating na SEA Games sa Vietnam. Ang importante ngayon is yung mental toughness sa Olympics,” said Bureros.

The 22-year-old Ando is training in her hometown in Cebu as the PSC provided her with equipment.

This has been the setup as arranged by the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas and the PSC since middle of last year when venues like Rizal Memorial Sports Complex – where the weightlifting gym is located  – was transformed to a COVID-19 quarantine facility.

Various weightlifting equipment were brought to Bohol, Cebu and Zamboanga as Filipino weightlifters were preparing for the Asian Championship in Uzbekistan, the Olympic Qualifying Tournament last April.

The national team pocketed medals as Ando captured two silvers and a bronze, Vanessa Sarno won two gold and silver medals in the 71kg women’s division, Mary Flor Diaz took three silvers in women’s 45kg, Kristel Macrohon earned two bronze medals for in the 76kg, and a bronze medal for John Fabuar Ceniza in the men’s 61kg division.

“That was one of the biggest challenges we had (equipment) when it comes to training nila,” said Velasco.

Velasco said that training in their respective provinces worked to the advantage of the weightlifters.

“They were training in a rather safer environment than staying in Metro Manila. They’re in a more comfortable environment. The weightlifting leadership and the coaching staff really worked hard and planned for their training,” he said.

Ando, a silver medalist in the last Southeast Asian (SEA) Games here, will join 11 other Filipino athletes in Tokyo Olympics, including fellow weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz – silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Aside from Ando and Diaz, other Filipinos set to see action in the Tokyo Olympics are pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Caloy Yulo, boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, rower Chris Nievares and skateboarder Margielyn Didal.