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Lima, Day 5: It’s Canada Day in Lima – gold for Love, silver for Billen and a double on the microphone for Mason

Canada had a 1-2 in the women’s super-heavyweights when the World Youth Championships came to a close in Lima, Peru.

Etta Love, who was third last year, came out after everybody else had finished and won with a career-best total of 243kg. Her team-mate Angel Billen was 24kg back in second place and Karen Mancilla from Colombia made all six lifts for bronze.

Etta Love (CAN)

Irakli Vekua from Georgia won the men’s super-heavyweight title for the second time. When Ke Guan Ting finished third for Chinese Taipei it took to 29 the number of nations on the medals table here, on total – a spread of 58% from the 50 teams. Venezuela topped the table with three golds, one silver and one bronze.

There was another landmark moment for Canada when Richard Mason took on the speaker’s role for both platforms at the same time. “It was a hoot – but I’m not sure I’d have wanted to do it yesterday when there were three sessions rather than just one,” said Mason, who will be speaker at the Paris Olympic Games.

One speaker had left for home, the back-up man was unavailable because of a family illness, so Mason had to get his split-second timing spot on as he switched from his left microphone for the men’s platform, to the right for the women. It had never happened before at an IWF Championships. He was awarded a gold medal at the closing ceremony for his efforts.

Richard Mason (right), receiving his “gold” medal from Ursula Papandrea, IWF First Vice-President, and Florian Sperl (left), IWF Executive Board member

Until 2021 Canada had never entered an international youth competition. In the past 14 months Canadian women have won six medals on total, including two golds, at World Youth and Junior Championships. Love and Charlotte Simoneau, the junior who will be 19 this week, are the nation’s big hopes for the future.

“This is my last year as a youth, and I’ll be going for youth world records in September at the World Juniors,” said 17-year-old Love. Those records, 110-145-255, were set by the Paris medal contender Park Hyejeong from Korea in 2019.

“I’m pretty close (to records) in training, but I always think of myself as a competition lifter – there’s a bit of added magic. That’s where all my energy is and that’s where I want to do it.

“I’m feeling physically strong and that will grow. The barbell makes me feel alive, and my hope is that will keep happening and take me to the Olympics.”

Love was third in Albania at last year’s World Youths on 95-130-225 and fourth at the World Juniors in Mexico in November, where she improved her total to 241kg. She made 105-138-243 here.

Three other nations were involved in the medal ceremony. Barbara Mendoza from Venezuela and Litia Nacagilevu from New Zealand took snatch silver and bronze on 95kg and 94kg, while Su Sheng Ci from Chinese Taipei was third in clean and jerk on 118kg.

Irakli Vekua (GEO)

Vekua failed with a final attempt at 200kg as he won on 151-196-347 ahead of Omadillo Olimov from Uzbekistan on 150-195-345 and Ke Guan Ting from Chinese Taipei on 142-190-332.

Vekua’s team-mate Givi Darsavelidze was second in snatch on 147kg before dropping to fifth on total. 

By Brian Oliver

Photos by Bob Willingham