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Day Three in Cicago

The day started out with some great competition in the women’s 69 kg Group A, as competing were two 4th place finishers from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, Leidy Yessenia Solis Arboleda from Colombia in the 69 kg weight class and Christine Girard from Canada in the 63 kg weight class. Girard has now switched to the heavier weight class and thus the women are pitted against each other.

“I competed in the Olympics, so this year has not been as big for me,” Girard said. “I finished university so I put a lot of effort and work into that. Switching to the 69 kg weight class, the diet is definitely easier, but I do have to get stronger.”

Finishing 4th at any event often leaves an athlete frustrated, to work so hard and just miss out on the prize. They were sure to come out strong today with something to prove. While Solis Arboleda ended up winning the gold, Girard was extremely happy with her second place finish, as this tournament was her first competing in the new weight class.

The women’s 75 kg Group A proved to be extremely exciting, as the crowd watched history being made. This tournament and this weight class marks the first time a Cuban woman has competed in weightlifting in the United States. Tamara Hernandez Conde lifted for Cuba and forever will be remembered as a barrier breaker. This is a perfect example of how sport can bring people from all over the world together.

The energy in this competition was also ramped up as Lidia Valentin Perez from Spain took the floor. Valentin Perez finished 5th in Beijing with a total score of 250 kg and she was no less impressive here. She dominated this group, giving the crowd a lift of 136 kg in the clean and jerk and winning with a total score of 241 kg.

“It was my first time competing in this tournament,” Valentin Perez said. “I am really happy because I won.” (Ibero American Weightlifting Championships )

Kendrick Farris, the USA athlete who finished 8th in the Summer Olympic in Beijing was up next in the men’s 85 kg Group A. Farris did have some stiff competition though in Colombian Carlos Hernan Andica Andica, who finished 10th in Beijing.

But it was Cuban Elio Osdany Guerra Aranoz who won the day, with a total lift of 350 kg, 2 kg more than Andica Andica’s total of 348 kg. It is fitting that a Cuban take home one of the gold medals because of the history that was made today at the tournament between Cuba and the USA.

The last event of the day, the men’s 94 kg Group A also belonged to Cuba, with Javier Enrique Vanega Rios winning the group. The USA finally was able to have a time to shine though, with a third place finish by Norik Vardanian, the first medal won by a United States athlete in the Pan-American Weightlifting Championships.

With one final day of competition tomorrow, who knows what will happen. Will the Colombians continue to dominate? Will the USA be able to get another medal? Will an unknown come out to win it all?