Newcomers excel as medals are shared worldwide in Guadalajara
Young weightlifters from all parts of the world showed that lack of experience need not be a barrier to success at the 2023 World Junior Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Newcomers made a significant contribution as more than half of the teams who entered, 25 from 44, won medals. Nations from all five continental federations were among them.
There were plenty of medallists who have competed 10 times or more, including in senior competition. But on the opening day Isabella Rodriguez started a trend when she finished second for the United States on her first international appearance.
Elijah Hein (USA)
Gold medallists Alireza Nasiri from Iran and Elijah ‘EJ’ Hein from the US performed so well on their debuts at 96kg and 89kg that they featured in the top six individual performers in the IWF Robi points rankings.
Ariya Paydar, who was beaten by Mykyta Rubanovskyi’s last lift at 109kg, was another impressive newcomer for Iran, whose team hit top form in the heavier men’s categories.
Ariya Paydar (IRI)
Japan had a debutant medallist on day two when Mao Tsutsumi finished third, one place behind her team-mate Nanasa Kawasaki. Eight of Japan’s 10 athletes had never competed before internationally, and five of them won medals.
The top male lifter was, unsurprisingly, Garik Karapetyan from Armenia, the European senior 102kg champion who won his third straight junior world title. Two 67kg lifters, Gor Sahakyan from Armenia and Hampton Morris from the United States, were ranked second and third.
Svitlana Samuliak from Ukraine topped the women’s individual list with a six-from-six victory at 59kg, ahead of the 45kg multiple champion Cansu Bektas from Turkey and Kelin Jimenez from Ecuador, an impressive winner at 76kg.
The highest-ranked American women were Katie Estep, winner at 71kg, and youth world champion Ella Nicholson, who was second behind Jimenez at 76kg. The US had three champions and topped the extended medals table on 18 medals, 10 of them gold, ahead of Mexico and Armenia.
Mariana Garcia (MEX)
Mexico showed the benefits of a three-week training camp in Mexico City, while several athletes from further afield appeared to struggle, possibly because of the altitude. Guadalajara is 1,560m above sea level (5,100ft).
The most popular winner by far was Mariana Garcia, who is from Guadalajara and has trained and competed at the competition venue, the Weightlifting Forum, since she was 12.
Reinner Arango’s win at 73kg was another highlight. The Venezuelan had flight trouble and arrived at Guadalajara airport only a few hours before weighing in.
Jessica Palacios (ECU)
Many of the medallists are 20 and will now compete only as seniors, but there were plenty of youth lifters, 17 or younger, on the podium too. The top teenagers, on individual points, were USA’s Morris at 67kg and the pumped-up 81kg winner Yedige Yemberdi from Kazakhstan. In the women, the top teens were Jessica Palacios from Ecuador, who was second at 59kg, and 64kg winner Estep for USA.
Their team’s performance will be especially encouraging for the USA, because talented youngsters could become home medal contenders at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 2028.
By Brian Oliver
Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia