ELREEN ANN ANDO has Olympic and world champion Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo to thank for her record-breaking success at the Cambodia 32nd Southeast Asian Games that sort of made up for her dismal performance at the Asian championships.
Ando, a Tokyo Olympian like Diaz-Naranjo, had a “no lift” across her name at the Asian weightlifting championships in Jinju, South Korea, just days before the SEA Games.
But the 24-year-old Cebuano fumed with redemption in Phnom Penh and lifted games records of 98 kgs in snatch, 118 kgs in clean and jerk and 216 kgs in total lift to win gold in the women’s 59-kg class.
“Ate Hidilyn [Diaz-Naranjo] is really amazing in helping me,” Ando, who failed in the clean and jerk in Jinju, told BusinessMirror on Friday. “I didn’t finish my lift in the Asian championships but she told me not to give up.”
Ando said that qualifying in the Paris Olympics remains her goal despite the fact that she has to compete for the slot against Diaz-Naranjo.
“My goal is to qualify for the Olympics again. I have to work hard and I am very happy that Hidilyn is inspiring me to work hard for it,” she said. “My weightlifting campaign is dedicated to my late father, Lupito, who died last year.”
Olympic weightlifting allows only one qualifier for each country, thus putting Ando in an uncompromising situation with Diaz-Naranjo.
Diaz-Naranjo won her Olympic gold at 55 kgs, a weight class that’s not in the Paris program.