After Hidilyn Diaz etched her name in the record books with the Philippines' first ever Olympic gold medal, another weightlifter will look to keep the momentum going in the sport.
Elreen Ando, still only 22 years old, was being groomed for the Paris Olympics in 2024 but qualified for the Tokyo Games via continental rankings.
She will compete in the 64kg division on Tuesday at the Tokyo International Forum.
"Matapang na bata 'yan," Samahang Weightlifting President Monico Puentevella said of Ando. "Lalaban 'yan."
But Puentevella was also realistic of Ando's chances, stressing that she still needs more exposure and experience in order to reach her full potential.
"The next Olympics is the target," he stressed. "She would be good for Paris."
Ando, a product of the University of Cebu, has made steady improvement over the years. After lifting a total of 201kg in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, she made a combined lift of 213kg in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games at home to secure the silver medal.
In the Asian Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in April, she won a bronze and two silver medals with her combined lift of 213kg.
Ando is just one of a handful of young lifters that the federation is preparing for the Paris Games in 2024.
Puentevella is hopeful that four or five lifters can qualify for the next Olympics, with Ando, Kristel Macrohon, and Vanessa Sarno among their brightest prospects.
Macrohon won the gold medal in the women's 71kg event in the 2019 SEA Games. In the Asian Championships, Sarno competed in that weight class and won the gold, while Macrohon moved up to the 76kg category where she won bronze.
"Bakbakan si Macrohon at Sarno sa 71kg," said Puentevella. "Ang plano namin, ibaba ang isa sa next category, pare pareho silang panglaban sa medal."
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