Echandia Zarate has set her sights firmly on an Olympic gold medal, and her victory brought a roar of relief, as well as payback for the blood, sweat and tears that go into making a champion.
“The sacrifices you make are so hard,” she said after lifting 72kg in the snatch and 90kg in the clean & jerk to total 162kg for the gold.
“I train everyday for the YOG. I missed the Opening Ceremony yesterday (to prepare for the event) and I can’t eat sweets as I’m on a diet.
“All of the sacrifices are worthwhile. I prepare very well and always have a positive attitude. I just won a gold medal for my country. I’m so excited.”
In the snatch, the Venezuelan was pushed all the way by Vietnam’s Thi Thu Trang Nguyen in a hard-fought duel. The pair shared top spot with lifts of 72kg going into the clean & jerk.
In the end, Nguyen had to concede the gold medal, managing only one good lift in the clean & jerk at 75kg.
“It’s so sad I failed to take the gold,” 15-year-old Nguyen said. “I didn’t perform well at the beginning and failed in my first lift in the snatch.”
Nida Karasakal (TUR) came third with 138kg after finishing third in the snatch with 60kg and second in the clean & jerk with 78kg.
“My expectation here was to perform my best,” she said. “I prepared all year to achieve that goal. I’m so happy to win the bronze.”
In the men’s 56kg, Vietnamese lifter Son Dinh Ngo was successful with all six of his lifts on the way to triumphing in the snatch with 114kg, the clean & jerk with 148kg, and overall with 262kg.
It was a comfortable victory for Ngo who was put under little pressure from second-placed Natthawat Chomchuen (THA). The Thai lifter came second in the snatch and clean & jerk, which set him up for an overall runner-up finish with 239kg.
“I feel so happy to win the gold. I hit my top form today,” Ngo said. “The gold is a present for my mother.”
The bronze went to Frantisek Polak (CZE) with an overall tally of 233kg, the YOG experience inspiring the Czech lifter to adjust his ambitions.
“I just wanted to participate and didn’t have high expectations, because I knew (the level of) my competitors,” he said. “But now I’m aiming for the world championships and the Olympics.”