Paris Olympics

China ‘lukewarm’ to training PH Olympian weightlifters ahead of Paris quest

JR Isaga

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China ‘lukewarm’ to training PH Olympian weightlifters ahead of Paris quest

NEW HOPE. (L-R) PSC chairman Richard Bachmann, John Ceniza, Elreen Ando, SWP president Monico Puentevella, and Vanessa Sarno pose for a photo at the PSA Forum.

Philippine Sportswriters Association

The Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas eyes a monthlong training program in Taiwan for its three Paris Olympians, Vanessa Sarno, Elreen Ando, and John Ceniza, after 'lukewarm' negotiations with China

MANILA, Philippines – With less than three months to go before the 2024 Paris Olympics, the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) is seeking the best possible training grounds for its Olympian trifecta of Vanessa Sarno, Elreen Ando and John Ceniza.

Per SWP president Monico Puentevella, the federation is eyeing Taipei, Taiwan, as one of its overseas practice areas following an unproductive attempt to get support from China, home of arguably the world’s best weightlifting program.

“We intended to train them in China. I tried for more than a year and I negotiated with the Chinese Embassy but they have been very lukewarm,” Puentevella said in a mix of English and Filipino at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, May 7.

“We hope Taipei accepts them even for just a monthlong training.”

Puentevella speculated that Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal win in the 2021 Tokyo Games – notably at China’s expense – may have played a role in the allegedly “lukewarm” reception to his training requests.

Diaz not only defeated China’s Liao Qiuyun for the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold in 97 years of competition but also did so under the tutelage of Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen, who has since also moved to Taiwan.

Moving on from the China training talks, the SWP will now give its full attention to its three Olympians, while the fourth aspirant, Rosegie Ramos, continues her pursuit for a Paris berth.

Sarno will compete in the women’s 71kg event as a first-time Olympian, while Ceniza will also make his debut in the men’s 61kg category.

Ando, now a two-time Olympian, will represent the country in the women’s 59kg tilt after beating out her idol and mentor Diaz for the Philippines’ lone Paris ticket in the previous qualifiers. –

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