Puentevella confident on weightlifting’s inclusion in Paris Olympics

Published August 20, 2021, 7:45 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella, left, with Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz. (Monico Puentevella Facebook)

Former Asian Weightlifting Federation (AWF) president Monico Puentevella expressed optimism that the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) would satisfy the calls for change by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and include the sport in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Puentevella said that the member countries of the IWF are set to meet late this month in Qatar to discuss the situation, and hopefully make the necessary changes the IOC wants after the Tokyo Olympics.

“Do not worry. We will fix this issue,” said Puentevella, currently the president of the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP), when contacted by Manila Bulletin Friday, August 20.

“We’ll fix it in our constitutional congress. I’m sure we’ll all find a solution to this issue.”

The IWF meeting is set Aug. 29 to 30 in Doha.

The country captured its first Olympics gold medal in the recently concluded Summer Games in Japan courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who ruled the 55kg women’s category.

It was the first gold medal for the Philippines since it began participating in the Olympics back in 1924 in Paris, France.

However, as the French capital prepares for its turn to again host the Olympics, there seems to be uncertainty on the inclusion of weightlifting where the country is expected to contend with young weightlifters in Elreen Ann Ando, Vanessa Sarno, Mary Flor Diaz and Kristel Macrohon.

USA weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews told AFP this week on the possibility of not having the sport in the Paris Olympics, saying: “Weightlifting is all but certain to be removed from the Olympic Games program unless the present leadership stand down.”

IOC chief Thomas Bach has expressed his disapproval with regards to the internal bickering within the IWF. Weightlifting was allowed in Tokyo on the conditions that changes would be made after the Olympics or face sanctions, which include the non-inclusion of the sport in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Puentevella, a former member of the IWF board, said there are certain issues that the federation needs to address.

“What complicates this matter is that the Europeans want to also change the leadership instead of just amending our constitution on strengthening our anti-doping violations, gender equality, and alleged corruption,” he said.

“Presently, our Asian region holds the leadership of IWF and the other regions would like to take over.”

“Yet, I’m optimistic that we’ll somehow find a way to unify everyone. As a former President of Asian Weightlifting, I shall attend this critical meeting in our beautiful Olympic sport and make sure we satisfy the wishes of the IOC,” added Puentevella.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president, Congressman Bambol Tolentino said that he too is hopeful that things would turn out fine within the weightlifting group.

If not, Tolentino said that there is still a solution to include weightlifting in Paris.

“Just like in boxing, ang magpa-patakbo ang IOC,” said Tolentino, referring to competitions in boxing supervised and organized by the IOC after the committee suspended AIBA – of the International Boxing Association – in 2019.