In a historic win, Elreen Ando shattered records and clinched the Philippines’ first gold medal in women’s weightlifting at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games.
Ando’s journey to victory was marked by grit and determination, as she set new records in her new weight class on her way to winning the gold medal.
The 24-year-old athlete from Cebu City began the snatch at 92kgs and went on to lift 96kgs before making her best lift at 98kgs, putting her ahead of her closest rival, Suratwadee Yodsarn of Thailand, by seven kg. All Ando needed to do was clear 118kgs in the clean and jerk to clinch the gold medal.
Ando made history at the competition by setting new records in the snatch and clean and jerk, surpassing the records previously held by Hoàng Thị Duyên of Vietnam, who set records of 96kg in snatch, 115kg in clean and jerk, and 210kg in total lift in 2019 and 2022.
For Ando, this was a moment of redemption. In both the 2019 and 2021 SEA Games, she had to settle for silver in the -64kg division. But in her new weight class, Ando finally got the win she had been working so hard for.
Ando also competed for the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics, placing seventh in the 64kg class. Although she didn’t figure prominently in the Asian Championships recently held in Jinju, South Korea, where she ended up in 15th place, the athlete didn’t let that setback get her down.
She revealed that she felt down when she failed to finish in the Asian championships, but she persevered and found the strength to motivate herself and make a comeback.
Ando’s victory was particularly meaningful, as it broke a streak of four silver medals for the Philippine weightlifting squad at the National Olympic Stadium. Rosalinda Faustino secured a silver medal in the women’s 55kg weightlifting event earlier that day.
With Hidilyn Diaz skipping the SEA Games, the nation will rely on Kristel Macrohon (+71kg) and defending champion Vanessa Sarno (-71kg) to bring home the medals.
Ando viewed her victory as a form of redemption for her previous setbacks, saying that her hard work had paid off. She previously earned a silver medal in the women’s 64kg division during the Hanoi Games. She also dedicated her win to her late father, who had passed away from liver cancer.
As a Tokyo Olympian, Ando felt proud to bring home the gold medal for her country in women’s weightlifting at the Southeast Asian Games.
“This is some sort of redemption for me. The hard work paid off,’’ Ando said after her win.
As Ando stood on the podium, gold medal around her neck, she knew that her journey had been worth it. Her perseverance had paid off, and she had made history in the process. Ando’s win was not just a triumph for her personally but a source of pride for the entire nation.