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Caracas, Day 5: Home hero Vallenilla takes ‘zero stress’ route in quest for another Olympic medal

Keydomar Vallenilla was a picture of calm even when lifting 212kg above his head on the way to victory for Venezuela at the Pan American Championships. The host nation ended the final day with three winners and a big move in the Olympic rankings by women’s super-heavyweight silver medallist Naryury Perez.

“Zero stress, just the way I like it,” Vallenilla said after making 170-212-382 for a sweep of golds at 96kg, the weight at which he won silver in the Tokyo Olympic Games. He weighed in light at 89.85kg because and he is now an 89kg athlete. There is no 96kg category in Paris.

Media interest around Keydomar Vallenilla (VEN)

Vallenilla decided not to go head-to-head for a second time with Yeison Lopez from Colombia. At the Pan American Games in October, Vallenilla finished 1kg ahead of Lopez at 89kg.

“I look forward to competing with Yeison again, he is a very strong athlete,” Vallenilla said. “But the real contest is in Paris, not here. It made sense to go at 96, I could relax, I could just make four lifts. It was very exciting, and also it was very calm.”

Vallenilla declined his final snatch and his last clean and jerk. He made the other four lifts to finish with the same total Lopez made for victory at 89kg the night before.

Keydomar Vallenilla (VEN)

Gregorio Machado from Brazil withdrew at halfway, leaving Neiser Grefa from Ecuador to take second place 44kg behind Vallenilla on 148-190-338. Norwin Washington from Nicaragua was the only other finisher on 140-167-307.

Interest in the 102kg Olympic category focused on Jhonatan Rivas from Colombia, who is 8kg below the top 10 in the rankings.

Rivas retired with a shoulder injury after missing his opening snatch on 175kg. He has about six weeks to regain fitness and make a big total at the IWF World Cup, the final qualifier in Thailand from March 31 till April 11.

Jeyson Arias won, making it two in a row for Venezuela. Arias made 163-212-375, ahead of Oscar Garces from Colombia on 168-201-369 and another Venezuelan, Jhohan Sanguino on 163-202-365.

The Pan American Games gold medallist Rafael Cerro was a clear winner of the men’s super-heavyweights on 177-216-393. Cerro, who totalled 410kg last time out, has not competed in enough events to be eligible for Paris, but the lifters who finished second and third are.

Men’s +109kg podium

Hernan Viera from Peru put 20kg on his best total despite failing with two snatches, finishing 150-215-365. That puts him 6kg behind Josue Medina from Mexico in the Paris rankings. Medina made only two good lifts for 161-200-361. One of these two could take a continental place in Paris.

The big mover in the women’s super-heavyweights was Naryury Perez from Venezuela. She put 9kg on her best qualifying total and moved into the top 10 on 117-148-265.

Lisseth Ayovi from Ecuador won on 118-151-269. When Ayovi, already assured of a place in Paris, went for a career-best clean and jerk of 158kg on her final attempt it did not go well.

She lost her footing and did the splits before hitting the platform hard. Ayovi, who weighed in heaviest at 134kg, was helped off after treatment and hobbled back for the medal ceremony. She left the arena in a wheelchair.

Arantzazu Pavez from Chile was third on 105-130-235. Crismery Santana from Dominican Republic, who withdrew after weigh-in, lost 10th place in the rankings.

Venezuela had a third winner when Dayana Chirinos made 102-138-240 in the 87kg. Sirley Montano from Colombia was second on 103-136-239 and Dayana Mina from Ecuador third on 101-131-232.

Only two athletes lifted in the men’s 109kg. Yeimar Mendoza from Colombia won on 152-190-342 ahead of Nicolas Cuevas from Chile on 151-180-331.

Yeison Lopez won the best individual lifter award for men, and Neisi Dajomes from Ecuador was top woman.

By Brian Oliver

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