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Valentin (ESP) retires from weightlifting after Paris 2024 dream is thwarted by injury

Lydia Valentin, one of the most popular weightlifters of the 21st century, has announced her retirement from the platform after her hopes of qualifying for Paris 2024 were beaten by injury.

Valentin, who won gold, silver and bronze medals at successive Olympic Games, suffered a hip injury before lifting at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games, where she finished tenth. It became so serious the Spaniard has not been able to compete since.

Because she never wanted to give up hope, Valentin made herself eligible to qualify for Paris by entering the IWF Grand Prix in Cuba in June, at the age of 38.

She weighed in without lifting, and told insidethegames in Havana: “I came here because I didn’t want to close the doors yet.

“Training is now completely different for me because when I make the normal weightlifting movements I feel pain. I will only compete again if I am 100 per cent.”

The hip did not improve, and when Valentin was unable to enter the IWF World Championships which recently ended in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, she became ineligible to qualify.

“I love the sport,” she said in formally announcing her retirement at the headquarters of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) in Madrid.

“I am leaving happy, full and very grateful for achieving what I never imagined.”

Spanish Weightlifting Federation (RFEH) President Constantino Iglesias, COE chief Alejandro Blanco and Secretary of state for Sport Victor Francos were there to wish Valentin well in retirement.

After a number of athletes were disqualified because of doping when stored samples were reanalysed, Valentin was promoted to second place at Beijing 2008 and gold at London 2012.

She was third at Rio 2016 – all three medals in the old 75 kilograms category – and also won 10 European Championships medals, four of them gold.

Valentin was widely regarded as the perfect role model for women’s weightlifting for more than 10 years of a career that began at the IWF Junior World Championships in 2001.

The “beautiful story of weightlifting”, as she calls it, is over for her as an athlete but Valentin may stay in the sport.

She does not want to be a coach of professional athletes but said she would like to do what she can to bring in new people to weightlifting.

By Brian Oliver, Inside the Games