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Filipino Weightlifters Set Sights on Olympic Gold in Paris: Meet the Trio Aiming to Repeat Hidilyn Diaz’s Feat

Filipino Weightlifters Target Olympic Gold in Paris
These Filipino lifters aim to add to the Philippines’ lone Olympic gold medal. Photos from lifters’ social media (L to R) Vanessa Sarno, John Ceniza, Elreen Ando.

Three Filipino weightlifters are gearing up to repeat the historic Olympic gold achievement of Hidilyn Diaz as they prepare for the Paris Summer Games. John Ceniza, Elreen Ando, and Vanessa Sarno are on track to fulfill their Olympic dreams after securing qualifications for the quadrennial event.

Joining a cohort of six athletes already qualified to represent the Philippines at the 2024 Olympics – including pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, and Aira Villegas, as well as gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan – these weightlifters aim to continue the legacy of success established in Tokyo, Japan.

In the previous Summer Games, the Philippine delegation made history by securing the largest medal haul for the country, including its first-ever Olympic gold medal, clinched by Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.

Here’s a closer look at the three weightlifters heading to the Olympics:

John Ceniza: Making his Olympic debut, weightlifter John Ceniza earned his spot after an impressive performance at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup men’s 61kg event in Phuket, Thailand, on April 2. The 26-year-old from Cebu secured his berth by finishing in the top 10 in his event. The Southeast Asian Games silver medalist had previous stints at the World Weightlifting Championships and Asian Championships, bringing his experience and determination to the Olympic stage.

Elreen Ando: Returning Olympian Elreen Ann Ando secured her place in the Paris Games after her performance at the IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand, on April 3. The 25-year-old from Cebu booked her spot within the top 10 cutoff in the women’s 59kg division. Ando aims to improve upon her seventh-place finish during her Olympic debut in Japan, showcasing her resilience and commitment to success.

Vanessa Sarno: At just 20 years old, weightlifter Vanessa Sarno earned her Olympic qualification as a top 10 finisher at the IWF World Cup in Thailand. Hailing from Tagbilaran City, Sarno secured her spot in the women’s 71kg class on April 7. Along the way, the SEA Games champion shattered her national record in the snatch event, highlighting her potential as an Olympic contender. With multiple gold medals in various weightlifting competitions, including the Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships, Sarno brings youthful vigor and promise to Team Philippines.

As these athletes prepare to represent the Philippines on the Olympic stage, let’s rally behind them and share their inspiring stories. Join us in supporting Team Philippines as they strive for gold in Paris!

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Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.

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