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Moldova: a turbulent year and the promises of youth

Memorable Moment by Natalia Donets

In 2011 the admirers of Moldovan weightlifting could see extraordinary achievements, visible progress and unexplainable traumas; although it would be hard to pick one moment to stand out above all others, it’s certain 2011 was remarkably unlike the other pre-Olympic qualification runs that Moldovan weightlifters have experienced to date.

Hopes for the year were high after the European Championship in Kazan. Oleg Sirghi returned home with two gold medals in clean and jerk (56 kg), Anatolie Ciricu became the overall silver medalist (94 kg), while Ghenadie Dudoglo scooped a bronze in snatch (56 kg)…

2011 also gave another proof that Moldovan weightlifting has a promising new generation of athletes to support and encourage. The names of the likes of Cristina Iovu, Artiom Pipa, Iurie Dudoglo, Gheorghe Cernei and others are likely to be heard of for a long while yet. The European Junior and U-23 championship gave a full proof to that, when Moldovan weightlifters returned home from Bucharest with a record-breaking 15 medals: 8 gold, 6 silvers and one bronze. For the first time ever the Moldovan team occupied the second spot in the Championship rankings.

The run-up to the junior’s was emotional. This year, just once have the young Moldovan weightlifters stopped a mere step away from the podium. Cristina Iovu, forerunner of Moldovan female weightlifting and a hopeful to reach the London Olympics, was the fourth at the U-20 World Championships. Iovu, Artem Pipa and Gheorghe Cernei became the fourth at the Shenzhen University Games…

In dire training conditions, when the halls are out of order and there are not enough modern weights for every athlete, the progress of each athlete is an amazing effort in itself. The London Olympics are just around the corner, yet thus far Moldova does not have any secured weightlifting quotas. The performance of the Moldovan team at the Paris World Championship became a discouraging continuation for the winning series and a disappointment for the national Federation and the sporting community of Moldova. Four weightlifters were injured, no female quotas earned and the best result of the team was 8th place earned by Anatolie Ciricu.

Four quotas earned at the 2010 World Championship were not confirmed, thus making this year’s Championship in Antalya decisive for the fate of Moldovan Olympic hopefuls. Hopefully, 2012 will be the year of correcting mistakes and shortcomings.

Natalia Donets

AIPS young reporter