By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – One hundred and twenty athletes from thirteen countries competed in the Aquece Rio (Warm-up Rio) weightlifting test event, which finished on Sunday, April 10th. Guest lifters from the U.S., Germany, Panama and Thailand joined athletes from all over the continent in the competition which also served as the South American Championship.
Brazil’s Pan-American champion in the +105kg, Fernando Reis, had a disappointing end to the event. In trying to lift 200kg and make a new record in the Americas, he pulled a ligament in his elbow and retired from the competition. Following a trip to hospital he was told he could resume his normal activities in a few days leaving him ready to compete again in August.
Colombia’s star lifter, Óscar Figueroa, also left without a medal but was pleased with his performance as he is recovering from a back injury. He came fourth in the -69kg class. “As a comeback, it was very positive. I’m still recuperating,” he told Rio 2016.
His teammates picked up six golds and four silvers between them, topping the leaderboard and buoying the country’s hopes for the Rio 2016 Games. Ecuador came second overall, with two golds and three bronzes. Brazil, who had sixteen people in the competition, finished third with two golds, two silvers and six bronzes.
The competition was held in Carioca Arena 1 in the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca. Lifters warmed up next door in Carioca Arena 2 which lacked air conditioning. According to the chairman of the Sports Medicine Society for USA Weightlifting, Mark Lavallee, the heat was welcomed by the weightlifters but was stifling for support staff and other team members.
Some problems with the platform were also reported. The constant force of dropping weights put it under immense pressure. It was reinforced with a second structure during the event and organizers are looking to make improvements before August. The surface of on the platform will also be reviewed as it was said, at times, to be slippery.