CEBU City – Elreen Ann Ando’s entry to Tokyo Olympics Weightlifting competition has completed the circle to his coach and discoverer Gary Hortelano. Somehow, Ando’s interest in weightlifting is somehow a little bit too late, as she started to lift weights at the age of 14, along with the girls and boys of her age in Brgy. Carreta.
“Elreen is my neighbor in (Brgy.) Carreta and I started training her at the age of 14,” disclosed Hortelano. He saw a glimpse of potential in Ando and started giving her a training program to follow every day. During the pandemic, Hortelano continued to supervise Ando’s training at the PSC Regional Weightlifting Center at the Cebu Coliseum.
“I am optimistic of Ando’s chances. As one of her coaches, I am confident that she can make it to a podium finish in the Women’s 64kgs division. She may even finish No. 1 or No. 2. But for me, win or loss, Elreen Ando is my champion, my Olympic gold medal winner, because we made it to the biggest (sporting) event. And by the time she stands at the Olympic stage, my being a coach is already complete. It has come to a full circle,” Hortelano told iNews.Ph.
Hortelano was thankful for the full support given by the University of Cebu, especially to the university president Atty. Augusto W. Go, who made this journey possible for the 22-year old Ando. “I trained Ando and when she was 14. She has a lot of potentials so I decided to take her to UC to get an athletic scholarship,” Hortelano added.
Under the tutelage of Ramon Solis, the UC head coach and national team coach, Ando flourished into a world-class weightlifter.
“I can speak being one of her coaches, Elreen deserved it because she never quit, despite the struggle in training, even during the pandemic we trained, we joined qualifying events with much confidence and focus on her career as a weight lifter. All I can say is thank you so much that God has given us the chance to compete in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. She deserved it. Because she believed and had faith,” added Hortelano.
Ando will be competing for the hardware against Loredana Toma of Romania, Mercedez Perez of Columbia, Maudie Charron of Canada, Angie Palacios of Ecuador, Sarah Davis of Great Britain, Giorgia Bordignon of Italy, Chen Wen-huei of Chinese-Taipei, Marina Rodriquez of Cuba, Chaima Rahmouni of Tunisia, Nancy Sema of Nicaragua, Nuray Levent of Turkey and Kiana Elliot of Australia.
On the official list, Ando is the 11th Filipino and the second Cebuana athlete who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in July. She is also the second weightlifter to qualify behind Hidilyn Diaz. Last Wednesday, Cebuana skateboarder Margielyn Didal booked her ticket to Tokyo after finishing on the Top 16 at the 2021 Street Skateboarding World Championship in Rome, Italy.
As of this writing, the other Filipino Olympic qualifiers are Pole Vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, rower Cris Nievarez and taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa.
The International Golf Federation is yet to announce formally the qualifiers in the Men’s and Women’s golf tournament but two Filipina golfers – Bianca Pagdanganan and Yukka Saso were earlier reported to have Qualified to the Olympiad. RCM