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Durres, Final Day: Egg producer helps Etta to put Canada on the podium again

For the third time in eight days a young Canadian was on the podium at the IWF World Youth Championships – a remarkable achievement for a nation that has never yet staged a national youth championship and never entered a youth athlete in an international competition until 2021.

Turkey and Georgia had the last two winners of the Championships in Durres, Albania and Turkey finished top of the medals table.

Etta Love’s second-place finish in the women’s +81kg took her nation up to eighth place in the final table. Last weekend Ivy Buzinhani Brustello became weightlifting’s youngest ever world champion when she won at 40kg and two days later her Montreal training partner and friend Emily Ibanez Guerrero finished third at 55kg to become the sport’s youngest ever international medallist at 12 years 3 months.

Everybody has been talking about Canada here throughout the week. Mohammed Jalood, president of the IWF, said, “I’m surprised to see that Canada is one of the strongest teams here. For me, their performance has been special.”

Rachel Leblanc-Bazinet, a Tokyo Olympian who managed the team in Durres, said, “We don’t have a lot of funding in Canada. Our old board didn’t really believe in sending youth teams. Now we are getting on the podium, making progress, maybe we will get more funding.

“We thought we could win some medals but three golds for Ivy was a big surprise. The kids competed really well in their first time on the big stage.”

Love, 15, had backing from an unusual source for the journey from her home in Saskatoon, about 3,000km away from Montreal and 8,400km from Durres. Her parents wrote to local companies and Saskatchewan Egg Producers said yes, we will sponsor you. “It makes sense because Etta does eat a lot of eggs!” said her mum Emma.

She rewarded their support by making 95-130-225 for snatch bronze, clean and jerk gold and silver on total behind Tuana Suren (TUR) on 104-126-230. Thi Hien Tran (VIE) was third on 96-124-220.

The Loves still had to spend several thousand dollars – as did the other Canadian team members – because Etta’s brothers Myles, five, and 10-year-old Tom came along to give  Emma their support.

Love, who started weightlifting aged 10, is coached from afar by Aimee Everett, the American who coaches Mattie Rogers. “Touching the bar makes me feel alive. It was the place that made my mind most free when I started and it’s still the same now,” she said.

In the men’s +102kg Irakli Vekua (GEO) made six from six to win on 141-179-320. Gagik Mkrtchyan (ARM) was second on 139-174-313 and Wang Yu Cheng (TPE) third on 138-172-310.

The result made the numbers posted at 102kg on Friday by Nikita Abdrakhmanov (KAZ) all the more impressive. His total was 49kg higher than the super-heavyweight winner’s.

By Brian Oliver, Inside the Games