ELREEN ANN ANDO can’t wait to qualify for the Paris Olympics that are three years away and the first stop for the Cebuana will be the World Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent.
The worlds, which the Uzbek capital is hosting from December 7 to 17, are the first of six Paris Olympics qualifying tournaments—the same format for each and every Olympics for the sport.
“That’s my goal, my dream to qualify again for the Olympics,” Ando, who will turn 23 on November 1, told BusinessMirror on Friday.
Ando made the International Weightlifting Federation quota for the women’s -64 kgs class in the Tokyo Olympics where Hidilyn Diaz won the country’s first Olympic gold medal in women’s -55 kgs class.
Diaz earlier told BusinessMirror that she will be in Tashkent to shoot for the only remaining gold medal missing from her collection—the world championships. She has won gold in the Asian Games in Jakarta 2018 and the Southeast Asian Games the country hosted in 2019.
Ando immediately started training in the weightlifting gym of the Cebu Coliseum right after completing her quarantine upon her arrival from Tokyo in August.
“Right after the Olympics and after the quarantine, I immediately plunged into training,” said Ando, a silver medalist in the 2019 SEA Games.
Ando was one of 14 Filipino athletes who missed clinching a medal in Tokyo, but all of them were aptly rewarded a total of P1 million each by the Philippine Olympic Committee and the government.
“I was able to reconstruct our house,” said Ando, whose family is an informal settler in Cebu. “My goal is also to have our own house and lot.”
Ando placed seventh in her weight class in her Olympics debut with a total lift of 222 kgs. Before the Olympics, she clinched two silver medals and one bronze at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in April also in Tashkent.
Besides Ando, 17-year-old Asian championships gold medalist Vannesa Sarno of Bohol is expected to see action in the women’s -71 kgs class in Tashkent.
Also expected to participate in the world championships are Mary Flor Diaz (-45 kgs), Ellen Rose Perez (-49 kgs), Margaret Colonia (-64 kgs) and Kristel Macrohon (-71 kgs) in the women’s section, and Fernando Agadin (-55 kgs), John Febuar Ceniza (-61 kgs), Dave Pacaldo (-67 kgs) and John Dexter Tabique (-96 kgs) in the men’s side.
The Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) will hold tryouts next month either in Bacolod City or in Manila to determine the other members of the team to Tashkent.