Ando places 7th on her first Olympic stint

Published July 28, 2021, 12:06 AM

by Tito Talao

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. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

TOKYO —The sheer weight of competing on such a grand scale for the first time at 22, and being on the same stage where barely 24 hours ago gold medal history was made by a veteran of four Olympic wars, were factors overwhelming enough for Elreen Ando, the Philippines’ second representative in the 64kg weightlifting event, as she fell way short of what would have been a surprise podium finish in the XXXII Olympiad at the Tokyo International Forum.

Ando finished seventh overall in a field of 10 with a 222 kg total, no-lifting second attempts in the snatch and clean & jerk before redeeming herself with successful third tries.

Below her in the standings are Marina de la Cari Rodriguez Mitjan of Cuba (221 kg), Nuray Levent of Turkey (220 kg) and Lisa Marie Schweizer of Germany (217 kg).

Taking the gold medal is Canada’s Maude Charron with 236 kg. Silver went to Italy’s Georgia Bordignon, the only one who didn’t no-lift in both categories as she accumulated 232 kg, while Chinese-Taipei’s Chen Wen-Huei settled for the bronze with 230 kg, twice failing at 130 kg in an effort to overcome Bordignon’s lead.

Ando came away with what was most valuable to her early in her career — wisdom and experience from lifting against the world’s best.

Heralded as a potential heir apparent to Hidilyn Diaz, 30, who would go on Monday to capture the country’s first Olympic gold medal after 97 years of participation in the quadrennial Games, Ando got the call just a few months before the start of the pandemic-delayed Olympics, leaving her coaches, led by four-time SEA Games veteran Antonio Agustin, scrambling to whip up a training regimen in a hurry.

Her presence here via continental allocation at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last April was welcomed by the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas, which saw the Olympic stint as a great source of international experience for Ando, who was being primed, along with several upcoming national lifters, for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

The Cebu native placed third in the World Championships in Rome last year and made the cut by becoming the highest-ranked athlete in the International Weightlifting Federation Absolute Ranking list for her event in Asia.

Ando had 96 kg — the second lowest attempted — on her first try in the snatch, saw her knees buckle when she attempted a 99 next, but pulled it together for a best lift of 100 kg. 

Taking the snatch with 105 kg is Charron with heaves of 102 kg and 105 kg

before no-lifting at 108 kg.

In the clean & jerk, Ando went for 118 kg, failed to raise the bar above her head at 99 before going for 100 kg on her third attempt, half turning to her right but steadying herself long enough to get a ‘good lift.’

Charron was also best in the category with 131 kg after no-lifting her first attempt at 128 kg.