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Day 4 – Pan-American Weightlifting Championships

It was day four, the last day of the Pan-American Weightlifting Championships. The first group out was the men’s 105 kg weight class. With their first lift starting between 141 kg and 160 kg (between 311 lbs and 353 lbs) the day started with terrific lifts.

The USA seemed to finally be holding its own in this international competition with four performers doing well in the men’s 105 kg Group A. Cody Gibbs from LSU completed six good lifts, something that has been a rarity in this tournament. Having come into the tournament hurt, Gibbs was not even lifting at his best, and still performed well.

The group ended with tight competition. Both having lifted 201 kg successfully, Lazaro Jose Lopez Jimenez of Cuba and Angel David Daza Tapia of Venezuela tried to out do each other. After missing 206 kg on his second attempt, Lopez Jimenez left the door open for Daza Tapia. Daza Tapia did indeed made his next lift of 206 kg to cheers of excitement, but it wasn’t over as in his final attempt Lopez Jimenez was able to lift 207 kg to win.

“The competition was very very exciting,” Lopez Jimenez said. “Everything was very organized. I was very happy with all the people. I hope that the Olympics come to Chicago in 2016 because I love Chicago and being here and I want to come back.”

Next up was the women’s 75+ kg weight class. Nailing the 130 kg proved momentous for many of the women; with the last two women to nail their 130 kg lifts being so ecstatic that they started jumping around, screaming, and pumping their fists. Oliba Seledina Nieve Arroyo of Ecuador dominated in the category and won easily.

“I was really happy I accomplished what I needed to,” Nieve Arroyo said. “When I go to the platform I forget everything and I am no longer nervous or thinking about the other athletes.”

The last session of the tournament was the men’s 105+ kg weight class and USA athletes were out in full force. Out of the 12 men competing, seven of them were United States athletes. Patrick Judge, who was ranked 51st in 2008, started out strong and looked to be in contention for a medal. It came down to three competitors: William Alfredo Solis Arboleda (whose two sisters won their weight classes earlier in the tournament) from Colombia, Yoel Jose Morales Navas from Venezuela, and Patrick Judge from the USA.

Judge ended up coming in third with a final lift of 211 kg, but it was the last two lifts of the tournament that were the best two! It came down to Yoel Jose Morales Navas from Venezuela, who in his third attempt was able to lift 216 kg, even holding it on one foot before dropping the weight! The moment then rested on the shoulders of William Alfredo Solis Arboleda from Colombia who missed the 216 kg lift on his second attempt and upped the ante to 217 kg for his third. Solis Arboleda seemed to know the outcome of his lift though and came onto the stage and performed. When that buzzer sounded the entire Colombian team was on their feet cheering and screaming. Solis Arboleda had won the gold.