From the Queen City of the South to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Elreen Ando will fulfill her dream of representing the Philippines in the Olympics as she is set to compete in the Tokyo Games – less than a decade since she started her weightlifting career in Cebu.
The 22-year-old Ando got discovered by weightlifting coach Garry Toleno back when she was still studying as a junior high school student at the University of Cebu (UC).
UC eventually granted Ando a collegiate scholarship, paving the way for her journey as a competitive weightlifter.
Since then, Ando saw action internationally, with her latest triumphs coming in the Asian Weightlifting Championship, where she bagged two silver medals and one bronze last April.
Ando earned her Olympic berth through a continental allocation as she became the highest-ranked athlete in the International Weightlifting Federation absolute ranking list for the women’s -64kg event in Asia.
“Elreen’s progress has been steadily increasing,” said UC athletics director Jessica Honoridez. “In training, Elreen lifts three kilograms more at a time.”
Ando said she and her coaches Telano, Christopher Borreros, and Ramon Solis only dreamt of making the Olympics.
Now, she will join star weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz – a silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games – in Tokyo.
“The Olympics has been my dream. Before, I’d talk about it with my coaches. We’d be jealous of the other Olympians. We kept talking about it until we reached it,” Ando said in Cebuano.
Despite feeling nervous for the big competition, Ando said she was proud of what she has achieved and hoped that other Cebuano athletes will continue to persevere for their passion even in the middle of this pandemic.
“Train hard, and in every training, focus on your goal, especially for all athletes who want to be an Olympian,” said Elreen.
“If you want to do this, never skip training, and listen to your coaches because they want what’s best for you and so do you.” – Rappler.com