Lidia Valentin of Spain, who has won gold, silver and bronze medals at the Olympic Games, is moving up to a new weight in an attempt to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
Valentin will compete in the women’s 87-kilogram category at the South American and Ibero-American Open in Cali, Colombia, on Friday (May 14), heavier than any class she has entered in a career that spans more than 20 years.
The 36-year-old Valentin, who is among the world’s most popular weightlifters, is effectively using Cali as an «insurance policy» to enhance her chances of a fourth straight Olympic Games appearance.
When she was a teenager Valentin once weighed in at just over 62,0 kg, while the most she has ever weighed is 79,25 kg in the new 81 kg class in 2019.
Valentin won all her Olympic medals — silver in Beijing 2008, gold at London 2012 and bronze at Rio 2016 — in the old 75,0 kg class.
She finished fifth in Beijing and fourth in London but was promoted three places at both, many years later, when retesting of stored samples showed that athletes who finished ahead of her had been doping.
When she finally had a chance to stand on the podium «live» in Rio de Janeiro, Valentin said, «It may be a bronze medal but it feels like gold.
«I’m really excited that I could stand on the podium after so many years.»
She then decided to try for a fourth straight Olympic appearance but all has not gone entirely to plan, and not just because of the disruption and delays caused by COVID-19.
Valentin suffered a shoulder injury in 2019 and last month she was forced to miss the European Championships in Moscow because of acute gastroenteritis, which landed her in hospital a day before she was due to fly to Russia.
Valentin has never before competed at 87 kg so she does not feature on the rankings at that weight, but a respectable performance would immediately make her the leading European and give a huge boost to her chances of being in Tokyo.
Before being sidelined from the European Championships Valentin said, «I have no other expectations than to get the score to be in Tokyo for my fourth Olympic presence.»
She will doubtless feel the same way this week and if she makes it, Valentin could be a contender for flagbearer for Spain at the Opening Ceremony.