By TITO S. TALAO
TOKYO — Let it not be said that Cebuana Elreen Ando never lifted a finger to gain entry to the Olympic Games which starts on July 23, Friday.
The 22-year-old did, raising enough iron to win the bronze medal in the 2020 World Weightlifting Championships in Rome.
She then earned two silver medals (clean and jerk, and overall lift) and a bronze (snatch) last April in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
All this wasn’t lost on the international federation which awarded Ando a slot in the women’s 64kgs division at the Tokyo Games via continental allocation as she made the cut with 2634 points.
“Sobrang excited po na makaka-compete ako sa Olympics,” said Ando, a few hours before she entered the Athlete’s Village at 5 Chome Harumi, Chuo City.
“Hindi ako makapaniwala na nag-qualify ako. Nagulat po talaga ako kaya naging todo ensayo namin.”
Her voice never rising above the roar of planes taking off and landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport prior to her departure for Japan Sunday, Ando vowed to go all out for a podium finish.
“Target ko po talagang makakuha ng medalya,” she said, showing no fear at the world class talent she would once more be ranged against.
“Nakalaban ko na po lahat mga ‘yan sa World Championship,” Ando said. “Malakas po silang lahat pero laban lang po.”
Stiffest challenge would come from Taipei’s Chen Wen Huei, top lifter in the Asian Championship, Mercedes Perez of Colombia and Maude Charron of Canada, both of whom shone brightly during the World Championship.
Blazing a trail for Ando to follow is four-time Olympian and Rio de Janeiro silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who will be competing in the 55kgs class.
Weightlifting competition starts on July 24, Saturday, and will run until August 4. Diaz’s quest for the gold begins on July 26, Monday, while Ando gets her turn the day after, July 27.