By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Champion weightlifter from Brazil, Fernando Reis, will be carrying the expectations of his country in the weight class category of 105kg + over the next few days. He is competing, along with lifters from ten other countries, in the Aquece Rio Olympic warm-up event at the Carioca Arena 1 in Barra da Tijuca until April 10th.
Reis, who will compete on Sunday at 4:30 PM, is one of fifteen athletes that make up the Brazilian team. The country is putting forward men and women lifting in a range of weight classes from 48kg to 105kg.
The outcome of the competition will help determine who will compete in the Pan-American competition in Colombia in June and who will pass straight to the Rio 2016 Games in August.
Weightlifting, when athletes can heave up to three times their bodyweight above their head, is the ultimate test of strength. It has been practiced since ancient times but was first introduced to the Olympics in 1896. The women’s weightlifting event began in Sydney in 2000.
Jeremy Lovelace, an English expatriate living in Rio and who took up training in competitive weightlifting here, is planning to volunteer during the Olympics at the weightlifting arena. He shares, “Fernando Reis is a strong dude! And his winning the Pan-American games 105kg + category brought much needed attention to the sport in Brazil.”
“However the competition at this level is ferocious – with China, Russia and Iran typically dominant across the board. I think the most exciting lifter in Latin America is Luis Mosquera, lifting in the 69kg mens for Colombia. Of course, I’m a massive fan of Zoe Smith from the UK, and I wish her and the UK team all the best!” he adds.
Weightlifting during the Olympic Games will be held Riocentro 2, also in Barra da Tijuca. The Carioca Arena 1, where the test event is being held, will be used to assess aspects day-to-day of competitions, such as doping control results, technology, audiovisual resources and volunteers during the Games.
The weightlifting test event is one of eight being held throughout April, which also includes shooting, swimming, gymnastics, fencing, water polo and handball. Some are open to members of the public, however there are no tickets available for the weightlifting as spectators are limited to guests.