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Caracas, Day 3: Mosquera makes last lift and Mayora bombs out in dramatic battle of Olympic medallists

Luis Javier Mosquera moved into the top 10 of the Olympic rankings on a night of red lights and high drama at the Pan American Championships in Caracas, Venezuela.

Julio Mayora’s noisy army of fans watched their home-nation hero fail three times to finish off a clean and jerk, leaving fellow Olympic silver medallist Mosquera to take the 73kg title for Colombia. Mosquera had also missed two jerks but he made his last one.

His 153-184-337 moved Mosquera up from 14th to eighth in the Paris 2024 lists and knocked Furkan Ozbek from Turkey out of the top 10. Mayora is down one place to 12th, 3kg short of the top 10. His last chance to make up that deficit is in the final qualifier, the IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand from March 31-April 11.

Men’s 73kg podium

Mayora versus Mosquera – silver medallists in Tokyo at 73kg and 67kg respectively – was a gripping, noisy contest from start to finish, enlivened by a band of drummers among Mayora’s many fans at the José ‘Papa’ Carrillo Gymnasium.

Mosquera, who will be 29 next month, missed his opener on 150kg, made it next time and finished on 153kg in snatch, his best effort by 3kg in an Olympic qualifying period blighted by injury. Mosquera had returned to training last August after a 15-month absence because of hand, adductor and shoulder injuries.

Mayora made 147kg and 151kg, then took the lead at halfway after a prolonged jury review of his final attempt on 154kg. He seemed to drop the bar above shoulder height but got the benefit of the doubt.

Mayora’s fans

In clean and jerk, Mosquera missed twice at 180kg after seemingly easy cleans. He went up to 184kg, sending Mayora out to the platform. When Mayora also failed twice, the Tokyo medallists were in big trouble.

The Venezuelan Reinner Arango had finished 9kg down on his winning total at the World Juniors last November but was leading on 138-170-308 with two attempts to come.

Mosquera took his final chance, making 184kg and spending a while on his knees as if in prayer after the lift. It was 4kg better than any other lift he had made in qualifying.

The drummers and screaming fans raised the noise level again. For a third time Mayora could not make 184kg. Mosquera had won, 19-year-old Arango was second, and the Mexican Jorge Cardenas was third on 140-160-300.

Nine lifters from four continents are within 10kg of Mosquera’s 337kg total so he cannot take anything for granted. It should be a session to savour in Thailand.

There was better news for Venezuela in the women’s 59kg when Anyelin Venegas won and boosted her chances for Paris.

Venegas became the only top-10 athlete to make ground in the rankings in a month when all five continental championships have taken place.  Four of the top 10 did not compete, waiting instead for the World Cup. Five others failed to improve on their best total.

Anyelin Venegas (VEN)

Venegas jumped from ninth to sixth by making all her clean and jerks for victory on 100-126-226. In the process she overtook Janeth Gomez from Mexico, who drops to ninth.

Gomez and Genesis Rodriguez, also from Venezuela, both failed with their last two attempts and finished 5kg behind Venegas. Rodriguez, who improved her best qualifying total by 3kg, got there first on 101-120-221 for second place while Gomez made 100-121-221 in third.

“That’s awesome, fantastic!” Venegas said after learning of her new ranking position. “I equalled my best snatch and it was my best clean and jerk.

“It was a very hard preparation for my first international competition here in Venezuela. I couldn’t be happier.”

Colombia took first and third place in the women’s 64kg, with teenager Charlotte Simoneau second in her first senior competition outside Canada.

Rosive Silgado, competing internationally for the first time since 2021, made 95-125-220 for victory. Her team-mate Rosalba Morales made 94-115-209.

Second-placed Simoneau, 18, missed her final two attempts in making 96-116-212. That was a career-best snatch but down 1kg on the total she made in finishing second at the World Juniors.

Colombia took the men’s 81kg, in which only three lifted. Edwin Lagarejo won on 143-170-313, Richard Ollo was second for Venezuela on 137-168-305 and Ariel Galeano from Argentina third on 130-160-290.

By Brian Oliver

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