Fighting for a position in the Olympic ranking: “I will not surrender!”
In the qualification path for the 2024 Olympic Games, one of the main challenges for the athletes taking part in the events that constitute that “road” is their place in the Olympic Ranking. As a reminder, for each of the 10 bodyweight categories included in the Games’ programme, only the best 10 athletes can guarantee their “ticket” to the Olympic celebration. Moreover, only one lifter per country can be classified in each category. This means essentially two things: besides fighting against all the competitors around the world, each athlete may have a national teammate to beat. Finally, as the places are nominal, only the lifter actually achieving the performance is selected for the Games.
On the second day of the IWF Grand Prix in Havana (CUB), the final of the women’s 49kg was quite interesting. Before the Cuban rendezvous, the cut was 184kg, corresponding to the 10th place of the provisional ranking in that category. In the Pabexpo arena, three athletes made better than that, precisely the three medallists, Beatriz Piron Candelario and Dahiana Ortiz, both from the Dominican Republic and respectively gold and bronze medallist. Piron lifted an accumulated total of 191kg, Ortiz did 188kg, while the second best of the day, US Hayley Reichardt concluded with 190kg. If for the Dominicans this is of course an excellent outcome, only Piron has for the moment (and provisionally) the French capital as a possible destination for the summer of 2024. She is exactly the eighth on the list. As for Reichardt, who entered with 194kg, she needed to make 199kg to do better than her teammate Jourdan Delacruz, comfortably in the fourth position of the ranking, after her 198kg effort from the 2023 Pan-American Championships.
Andrea de la Herran (MEX) got a bronze medal
Interesting was also to know how Andrea de la Herran, from Mexico, could perform. Entered with a total of 190kg, the 26-year-old is in direct competition with her teammate Yesica Hernandez, who lifted 184kg at the 2022 IWF showcase in Bogota (COL) and “closes” the ranking in the 10th position. De la Herran had the opportunity to do better, but she failed her 102kg clean and jerk, only validating an 83kg-snatch (bronze medal) and a 98kg-C&J, for a total of 181kg. The Olympic qualification is still on hold for the Mexican star, who was Pan-American champion in 2018 but never took part in the Games.
“I have to continue working on my body weight. Technically, I feel that I am OK, but I lost some weight and this affects my performances. I have already lifted 185kg, in 2022, so I will continue competing in the year that is missing for the Games to get at least that result. It is my personal best, and I am confident that I can achieve it again,” confessed De la Herran, whose best result in the Olympic Ranking was 176kg before this Grand Prix. “I will not surrender, and I will remain highly motivated to proceed with the Olympic dream. For one reason that only God knows, I couldn’t make it here, but it will come on another occasion. I was never at the Games, it’s really my most cherished dream!”
Strongly supported by her coach and family, the Mexican lifter knows that her most direct competitor is as determined as her to validate the presence in the Olympics. “Yesica is certainly thinking and wishing the same. She has a slight advantage for the moment, but by training hard every day, I’ll manage to improve,” she says, smiling. “I have a great supporting team around me and I owe them this – the Olympic qualification. I respect Yesica a lot, we are two very strong competitors, but now each one has to fight for the best possible place”.
De la Herran started practicing weightlifting at the age of 12, mainly because of the family’s influence. “My parents, especially my father, were very athletic persons, who loved sports. At 15, results started to appear and I initiated international competition, with some success. From that moment on, I knew that I could do nice things in this sport. So, from an initial hobby, this became a very professional activity. I was surprised at the beginning, but then everything came into place quite naturally,” De la Herran continues.
Representing the Mexican state of Guanajuato, she is ready to compete in the Central American and Caribbean Games (not an Olympic qualification event), starting some days after the conclusion of the IWF Grand Prix, and “of course the World Championships” in Riyadh (KSA), in September.
Looking at the Olympic Rankings, only two women categories seem open to Mexican lifters – precisely the 49g, but also the 59kg, where Daphne Guillen is presently eighth. Among men, no lifters are so far in the best 10 going to the Games. Mexico has won four weightlifting medals (one gold, three bronze) at the Olympics since 2000, all in the women’s field.
By Pedro Adrega, IWF Communications