Cebuana weightlifter Elreen Ann Ando bagged a slot in the women’s 64-kilogram division of the Tokyo Olympic Games next month based on the International Weightlifting Federation Absolute Ranking lists in the various weight divisions released by the world body early Saturday (Friday in Europe).
She will join Rio Olympic silver medalist and national teammate Hidilyn Diaz, who also formalized her fourth straight return to the Summer Games after finishing second overall in the women’s 55-kilogram division list in which the top 8 gain outright Tokyo tickets on the June 11 cut-off.
Ando, who bagged 2 silver medals at the Asian weightlifting championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in April, finished No. 12 overall but booked her ticket by securing the IWF Absolute Continental Ranking slot assigned for Asia.
Depending on the weight class, the participants in the men’s and women’s divisions are limited to 14 to 15 lifters and only one per country, with one seat reserved for the host and another through the tripartite or “wildcard” invitation.
Ando's entry to the Tokyo Games duplicated the weightlifting federation's contribution to the natonal Olympic squad in Rio de Janeiro 2016 when Diaz and Nestor Colonia, who saw action in the men’s -56-kg. category, were the country’s representatives.
Ando became the country’s 11th standard-bearer to the quadrennial global sports festival after Diaz, pole-vaulter Ernest John Obiena, gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo, boxers Felix Eumir Marcial, Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio, and Irish Magno, taekwondo jin Kurt Ryan Barbosa and rower Cris Nievares.
“Ando actually qualified for the Olympic and is not a wild card,” said weightlifting chief Monico Puentevella, a former Asian Weightlifting Federation president, after learning of the good news from his friends at the IWF, the sport's world governing body, Saturday morning.
“She (Ando) is only 22 and is a product of our grassroots program. Elreen is among the young weightlifters we are grooming as the successor to Hidylin,” Puentevella said, adding that Philippine officials were no longer pursued the wild card for Vannessa Sarno.
Sarno also saw action at the Asian meet, capturing two golds in the women’s 71-kilogram division, and Puentevella said earlier that she would lobby for the 17-year-old Boholano in securing a wild card to the Tokyo Games.
“But I was made to understand that the wild card or tripartite invitation can only be given to a country that has no Olympic qualifiers so that’s okay with me,” Puentevella said. “I know that Vanessa will be one of our strongest candidates to the (2024) Paris Olympics among with some other young lifters.”
The weightlifting head said that the weightlifter has not stopped training since she got back home because she is also gearing for the 30th Vietnam Southeast Asian Games in November.
“Elreen never stopped training since she came back from Uzbekistan and is being supervised by coach Ramon Solis,” Puentevella said of the athlete who won a silver medal in the 30th SEA Games in 2019.
“Ando will be both coached by Solis and will be coming soon to Manila before the national team leaves for Tokyo. Solis and national head coach Tony Agustin will be handling her in the Olympics.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES