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Weightlifting stays afloat



Elreen Ando and other young Filipino lifters can now heave a sigh of relief as weightlifting is tipped to stay in the calendar of the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella said the International Weightlifting Federation met in a world congress over the weekend where it adopted a new constitution that aim to clean up its ranks and curb the use of performance-enhancing drugs among competitors.

Puentevella said a total of 124 out of 132 countries approved the changes in their constitution, which would now be forwarded to the IOC for final approval.

Once approved, weightlifting can retain its status as Olympic sport and would be played in the Paris Olympics in 2024, Los Angeles Olympics in 2028, Brisbane Olympics in 2028 and beyond, giving the Philippines a chance to clinch more medals in a sport that had already gotten a national attention.

“Weightlifting is back in the Olympics after a new constitution was passed. Four voted against it and four countries abstained,” said Puentevella, who attended the World Congress in Doha straight from the Tokyo Olympics and in Las Vegas to support Manny Pacquiao in his welterweight fight against Yordenis Ugas.

The country’s future in weightlifting looks bright.

Hidilyn Diaz emerged as the first Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal after fruitless stints in the Beijing and London Games in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

She cornered a silver medal in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2012, setting the stage for a golden performance in the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Summer Games.

But weightlifting as its own share of controversies.

The IWF was the subject of an IOC investigation after its ranking executives led by president Tamas Ajan, vice president Nicolae Vlad and executive board member Hasan Akkus were charged with a range of complicity and tampering offenses under the World Anti-Doping Code.

The IWF officials stressed that they failed to prosecute some doping cases due to “chaotic organizational processes” and errors to “outright negligence, complicity, or — worst — blatant and international cover-ups.”

The IWF, however, did not completely sleep on its job and somehow did something to address its rampant doping problem.

It banned Thailand, Romania and other countries in the Tokyo Olympics as well as Russia and China several years back.

It also came up with very stringent anti-doping measures in the Tokyo Games, making sure than only the clean, deserving athletes would step on the medal podium.

“As former Asian president of weightlifting and former member of the IWF executive board, I am optimistic that we are all hell bent to following the wishes of the IOC to save this beautiful, exciting sport, that has given our beloved country its first ever Olympic gold in 97 years,” Puentevella said.

“Ironically, we didn’t even have one case of doping in Tokyo, which is a sign of great progress for the sport.”

He said nearly all members were in unison in framing a constitution and are looking forward to a corruption, doping-free staging of one of the oldest sports in the Olympics.

Our colleagues from all over the world are all here in a spirit of camaraderie and cooperation after the successful Tokyo reunion.

Aside from Ando, Vanessa Sarno and Kristel Macrohon are being groomed to take the cudgels from the 30-year-old Diaz in the next editions of the Summer Games.