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From Mexico with… fair-play!

The final of the women’s 59kg, the only medal event of the fifth day of the IWF Grand Prix in Havana (CUB) had a pair of interesting duels to follow. On one side, the US battle between Taylor Wilkins and Danielle Gunnin. Arrived in Cuba, the latter was in advantage in the Olympic ranking – 220kg, against 217kg for Wilkins. After today’s competition, Gunnin is behind, as she couldn’t get a total (she missed all the snatch attempts), while Wilkins returns home with a 221kg total. Travelling a bit south, Mexico also had its best two representatives in action – Daphne Guillen had a previous total of 217kg, while Janeth Gomez was 3kg adrift (both results were achieved at the Pan-American Championships, held last March in Bariloche, Argentina). The order was reversed at the Pabexpo arena, after a 98-125-223 successful contest for Gomez (overall gold) and a 93-121-214 outcome for Guillen.

Janeth Gomez (MEX)Janeth Gomez (MEX)

With her previous advantage, Guillen was the provisional eighth best in the ranking leading to the Paris Games; with today’s results, she leaves the qualification area, while Gomez “jumps” into the sixth place. Born on October 1997, the now best Mexican hope for the Games in this category, started her international career in the 53kg, with an initial participation at the 2013 IWF World Youth Championships, where she got the bronze. At the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, she was fifth, and already in the 59kg, she was fourth at two editions of the IWF World Cup. Today’s achievement was the most important so far in a path that now extends for 10 years.

Daphne Guillen is younger (she is from March 2002), and her main highlights include the bronze at the Bariloche rendezvous, and the 2022 title at the IWF World Junior Championships, precisely held in Leon, Mexico. The 21-year-old always competed internationally in this category, having her first result recorded in 2019, when she was a silver medallist at the IWF World Youth Championships.

Daphne Guillen (MEX)

Despite hardly fighting for a place in the 2024 Olympic team in the same category (only one athlete per National Federation is eligible to take part in the Games), their complicity was obvious during the award ceremony – Guillen won the bronze in the clean and jerk. After listening to their national anthem, all smiles, they joined the team’s officials in the warm-up area and happily answered together to our questions.

“Today, things didn’t go so well. I fundamentally lacked concentration. But, I always take things in a positive way – and this was a great lesson for the future. I will try not to repeat the same mistakes,” humbly recognised Guillen. Next to her, Gomez agreed with her teammate: “We both worked a lot to be here in good shape. I was luckier and it paid off. There are days when everything goes well and today was my turn. The main thing is to continue training hard, in a consistent way. There are many more competitions until we get to Paris, so a lot of things can still happen”.

Asked if the victory in Havana was on the plans, Gomez adds: “No, it wasn’t expected. I just wanted to improve from my previous competitions and results. It went better than anticipated and I managed to get the gold… This is a very ‘dense’ category, where everyone is working very hard to get a place in the Games. This gives additional value to our performances”. Agreeing with her teammate, Guillen is also clear: “From my side, I need to recover that first ‘national’ place. And for that, there is only one secret – work, work, and more work. But in the end, we feel both strong and this is good as we can ‘push’ each other”.

Daphne Guillen (MEX)

The plans for the months to come include participation at the IWF World Championships in Riyadh (KSA), where both will again compete side by side in the 59kg category. From two different provinces in Mexico, the two lifters get together before an international event. “On a daily basis, we are not training together, but when we are called to represent our country, we prepare ourselves in the same area, without any problem. The main goal is that Mexico can be represented in this category in the Games – and with the most prepared athlete – it doesn’t matter who will be from both of us, we will always cheer the one who is in Paris,” states Janeth Gomez.

Janeth Gomez (MEX)

With a huge smile on her face, Daphne Guillen concludes: “The most important is the mutual support we can provide each other. In the end, it is obvious that each of us would like to be in the Olympics. However, if Mexico can be there, with one or the other, this remains the essential”.  

And they leave, together, the warm-up area, in the direction of the bus taking them to the hotel. Sport is mostly fair-play and friendship. In Mexico, in weightlifting, in the women’s 59kg, this is essentially true.

Pedro Adrega, IWF Communications