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Ecuador: A true story of success!

The Olympic history of Ecuador includes five medals in the most important sports event on the planet. Until Tokyo 2020ne, only male athletes had entered this very selected club – however, in the Japanese capital things changed and two women made history for their country. Both are lifters and both were today competing, on the ninth day of the IWF Grand Prix in Havana, Cuba. In the women’s 81kg, Tamara Salazar and Neisi Dajomes, finished respectively second and third in the A session, both improving their previous results in the Olympic Qualification ranking.

Salazar got the silver in 116-149-265, bettering by 3kg the result she had achieved at the 2022 IWF World Championships, where she got the bronze in 262kg. Dajomes was the third best of the field in the Cuban capital, with a 118-142-260 effort – she had a 258kg also from the IWF showcase last December in Bogota (COL). With the change in the Olympic categories, these two immense champions are now fighting for a single place in the same group – Salazar came from the 87kg, while Dajomes was competing in 76kg.

Tamara Salazar (ECU)

At 25 (she was born on May 12, 1998), Neisi Dajomes is a true phenomenon in the sport. If qualified for Paris, these will be her third Games, after the gold medal in Tokyo and a seventh place at the 2016 Rio Olympics (at the time in the 69kg category). She has also won one silver and two bronze at the IWF World Championships, and was this year the Pan-American champion in Bariloche (ARG), revalidating her 2022 title in the continental rendezvous. Moreover, she comes from an amazing weightlifting family, where her two sisters and one brother are also practicing the sport at the highest level.

On Wednesday, also in Havana, her younger sibling Angie Palacios was the star in the 71kg category, establishing the only World Record so far in the IWG Grand Prix, a 121kg lift in snatch. After her success, Palacios emphatically said that Neisi would win today. It wasn’t the case, but the main interested takes the outcome with philosophy. “She always pushes for me… and she believes that I can win all the time. Today, it was not enough, but I’ll continue working hard to improve my result in the ranking. From my side, I am quite proud of Angie – she is a true champion, capable of beating World Records. She is progressing quickly and will be an even greater athlete”. Their youngest sister, Jessica is also a weightlifting star, namely at the youth level – in Albania, last March, she was silver medallist in the 59kg category and was also proud of telling the story of a group of siblings, inspired by an older brother (Javier – regrettably passed away). Finally, brother German was recently Pan-American junior champion.

Neisi Dajomes (ECU)

Salazar is also a national hero in Ecuador, after being a silver medallist in the Tokyo Games with a total of 263kg in the 87 kg. More recently, she was twice third, in the 2022 World Championships and in the 2023 Pan-American Championships. “The goal here in Cuba was to improve our positions in the Olympic rankings. The objective was accomplished and we are of course very happy with that. The road is still long, but with perseverance and work we will make it,” she admits.

Next to her, Dajomes explains: “We are in the middle of our pathway to the Olympics in Paris and the idea is to get better along the way. We fight the best we can in each event, and the next battle is already defined – the World Championships in Saudi Arabia”.

Neisi Dajomes (ECU)

Since the introduction of new bodyweight categories, Salazar and Dajomes have become partners in training. “We are like sisters… We are very good friends and we are also cheering for each other. We know we are fighting for the same thing, but the most important is that Ecuador is well represented in Paris and with a good chance of getting a medal. I believe this is the strongest category we have, the one that is in a better position to place an athlete on the podium,” Salazar recognises.

“Yes, we are here to motivate each other. It doesn’t matter who makes the place. Things evolved like that and we ended up lifting in the same category. No problem, in the end each of us will compete stronger and more motivated,” Dajomes says. “Sport is like that: to fight until the end and until the very last available competition!”

Tamara Salazar (ECU)

After the outstanding results in Tokyo, it will be inevitably difficult to do better in Paris. “We know that. We are respectively Olympic champion and Olympic silver medallist. We reached the top of the world hierarchy. But let’s take things in the right order: one of us needs to first qualify for the Games. Then, after what happened in Japan, the expectations are of course very high. We can only promise that arrived on the Olympic stage we will do our best to make Ecuador proud of our performance,” Salazar concludes.

By Pedro Adrega, IWF Communications