Four years ago Mexico’s Yesica Hernandez Vieyra had never even heard of weightlifting. On Monday she proved her precocious talent by taking the 48kg title at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.
Hernandez did it the hard way too, coming from behind to snatch the gold from Colombia’s Yineth Santoya Ortiz, with the bronze going to Romania’s Mihaela Cambei.
“Four years ago I didn’t even know the sport,” 16-year-old Hernandez said afterwards. “A friend of mine asked me to try it. My coach told me that I had a gift for weightlifting and said he believed I could one day take part in the Olympic Games.
“My dream was to fight for the gold. I kept training really hard. I stopped going out with my friends so much and made sure I focused on my training. All the effort and preparation has been worthwhile.”
“I’ve really learned a lot from weightlifting. It has played a part in my growth.Yesica Hernandez Mexico
The Mexican also paid tribute to her mother for her unstinting support: “My mother didn’t know the sport either when I started out, but she just stood by me the whole time.
“I’ve really learned a lot from weightlifting. It has played a part in my growth. I like the feeling of lifting barbells and training with my teammates.”
Santoya made a strong start to the competition, held at the Europa Pavilion in the Youth Olympic Park, lifting 76kg in the snatch, 2kg more than the Mexican. Hitting back hard, Hernandez then lifted 11kg more than her rival in the clean & jerk, to register 171kg overall.
“In the snatch, I didn't really concentrate,” commented Hernandez. “In the clean & jerk, I stayed focused and believed I could come back to win the gold.”
Santoya Ortiz was third in the clean & jerk with 86kg and totalled 162kg overall, 4kg more than Cambei.
In the day’s men’s competition, India’s Lalrinnunga Jeremy, the 2017 Commonwealth youth champion, fought it out with Turkey’s Caner Toptas for 62kg gold.
Only 2kg separated the pair after the snatch, but the Indian lifter proved too strong for his rival, lifting 150kg in the clean & jerk to compile a winning total of 274kg, 11kg more than Toptas. Estiven Villar Manjarres of Colombia won the bronze.
“I was down after the snatch, but my coach motivated me to come up with some good lifts in the clean & jerk. Luckily, I was able to rediscover my best form,” said Jeremy, who turns 16 later in October.