Neisi Dajomes Barrera is the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for Ecuador after a convincing win in the women’s weightlifting 76kg.
The elated 23-year-old finished with an impressive 263 points after she led both the snatch with 118kg and clean and jerk on 145kg. She sailed through each round with ease, but there was high drama on her final lift in the clean and jerk, which judges had initially ruled out.
The athlete, who came 7th in Rio 2016, fell to her knees in despair, but after an appeal the lift was reinstated and Dajomes Barrera took home the gold. "I feel really happy and really proud. I'm the first woman in Ecuador to get a gold medal," she said after the competition. "In the clean and jerk it was the first time I had lifted 145kg. The training regimen had given me the strength to be comfortable in all my competitions, and that's what you can see."
On the significance of her multi-coloured headband and different-coloured socks, she added: "I've been lifting for 12 years and I've always tried to get myself noticed this way, to show myself as having something on my head, having my nails painted or having different socks or different-coloured shoes. Just because I'm a weightlifting woman doesn't mean that I have to not look like a woman, not present myself as a woman or cannot place myself this way."
Dajomes Barrera's nearest rival was USA’s Katherine Nye who amassed 249 points after lifting 111kg in the snatch and 138kg in the clean and jerk. The 22-year-old, who won the world title in the women’s 71kg programme, failed a 148kg lift, which would have put her in contention for the gold medal. Mexico’s Aremi Fuentes Zavala, 28, who finished fourth in the World Championships, took home bronze with 245 points.
The Ecuadorian is only the third athlete to win a gold medal at an Olympic Games. The second was also won at Tokyo 2020 when her compatriot Richard Carapaz claimed victory in the men's cycling road race. Jefferson Perez won gold in the men's 20km race walk at Atlanta 1996.