By Waylon Galvez
Tokyo Olympics-bound weightlifter Elreen Ann Ando will continue with her daily training in Cebu City as she prepares for her first ever Olympic stint next month in Japan.
Ando, who earned an Olympic spot in the 64-kilogram women’s category via the continental rankings, said even before news came out of her claiming the No. 12 spot in her division, she was already training with her coaches.
“Nagpe-prepare na din kasi ako for the Southeast Asian Games,” said Ando. ”So tuloy lang kung ano yung ginagawa namin dito sa Cebu.”
“Pero siempre medyo mas mataas na level yung training and preparation kasi Olympics ito. Kailangan talaga mag-prepare kasi ayaw naman natin na kasali lang tayo, gusto maganda din yung maging performance.”
The last time Ando competed was during the Asian Championship in Uzbekistan, which served as the continent’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT). Ando, 22, won two silvers and a bronze.
Her achievement earned Ando ranking points that allowed her to move up in continental ranking, and gave her a chance to enter the weightlifting participants for the Tokyo Olympics set July 23 to August 8.
Ando’s head coach Gary Hortelano, the one who discovered her when she was an aspiring 14-year-old lifter, said that they never stopped training, which should be an advantage going to the Games.
“Hindi kami tumigil sa pag-ensayo kay Ando. Before noong OQT, after ng OQT, talagang tuloy-tuloy kami para hindi siya mawala sa kondisyon for the Vietnam SEA Games,” said Hortelano, who also has Chris Bureros and Ramon Solis as part of the Cebu-based Philippine weightlifting team coaching staff.
“Kaya sobrang saya kami noong nalaman namin na pasok si Elreen sa Olympics. Lalong naging pursigido kami mag-trabaho as coaches niya para tulungan si Ando sa preparation niya.”
Ando is the second weightlifter to earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympics, joining Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who will be competing in the 55-kg women’s category in the Games.