TOKYO—International Weightlifting Federation secretary general Hasan Jalood Mohammed knows talent when he sees one.
At the Tokyo International Forum Tuesday night, he saw another one in Elreen Ando.
“That girl is good. Take care of her,” Mohammed told Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella of the 22-year-old Ando.
“That’s the same thing Hasan Mohammed told me when he first saw Hidilyn (Diaz),” Puentevella said.
Ando could not replicate teammate Diaz’s golden performance as she placed 7th in a field of 10 in the women’s 64kg weightlifting competitions of the Summer Olympic Games.
But it was an unfair expectation for a first-time Olympian thrust against the world’s best lifters. After all, Diaz took three Olympics before she could muster silver, four before clinching gold.
Targeting the 2024 Paris Olympics, but was shoved into these Tokyo games three years earlier, Ando showed promised as she raised 100 kgs in the snatch and 122 in the clean and jerk for a 222-kg total.
But it was not enough compared to the 236-kg total of champion Moude Charron of Canada, the 232 of Italy’s Giorgia Bordignon and the 230 of Chinese Taipei’s Chen Wen-Huei.
“Elreen is our project for 2024 Olympics, together with Vanessa Sarno. Magaling lang talaga kaya nasama na kaagad sa Tokyo,” said Puentevella.
And so expect the wrestling association to pour its time and resources on the young Cebuano lifter, the way they did on Diaz.
“What I’m doing to Ando is what I did to Hidilyn,” said Puentevella, shortly before their departure for Manila with Diaz and her team of strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad.
Ando was some 14 kilograms short of the winning lift of the Canadian, but Puentevella is hopeful a good program can improve Ando and make her a medal contender in future Olympics.
And he only has to look at Diaz as the inspiration.