TOKYO — Elreen Ando is so young and so good that she cracked the Tokyo Games while actually training for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
And now that she’s here, the 22-year-old Cebuana vows to give everything she’s got. She vies in the women’s 64kg category of the XXXII Olympics weightlifting competition at the Tokyo International Forum here on Tuesday.
“Matapang ‘yang bata na ‘yan, kaya lalaban ‘yan,” said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella.
But realistically, she’s still just a project, needing exposure, experience, and polish to hit her potential.
“The next Olympics is the target. She would be good for Paris,” said Puentevella of their prized find from the University of Cebu, a school with an athletic program that produced June Mar Fajardo and Dondon Hontiveros.
Ando has been improving, as seen in her marks. Good for a total lift of only 201kg in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, she jacked it up to 213kg in her silver-medal showing in the 2019 SEA Games at home.
Ando also did a 213kg in her silver-medal feat in the Asian Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last year.
Hidilyn Diaz’s silver-medal achievement in the 2019 Rio Olympics has served as an impetus in the growth of the sport in the country.
And also with a boost to the national team program, the weightlifting chief is projecting four to five weightlifters making the next Olympics in the French capital.
Puentevella points to Ando, Kristel Macrohon, and Vanessa Sarno as among their bright prospects for the Paris Games.
Macrohon won the gold in the women’s 71kg in the 2019 SEA Games. In the Tashkent Asian meet last year, Sarno took her turn to reign supreme in the same category.
“Bakbakan si Macrohon at Sarno sa 71kg. Ang plano namin ibaba ang isa sa next category, para pareho silang panglaban sa medal,” said Puentevella.
Meanwhile, Ando tries what she can do in her Olympic debut today.