Hopes are high that the country will have three weightlifting gold medals in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
And one of them could come from newcomer Vanessa Sarno, who is a rising star in the women’s 71-kg category.
The 18-year-old Sarno caught everyone’s attention when she won the gold medal in the Asian Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last year.
Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas chief Monico Puentevella has added Sarno to his list of gold-medal potentials, next to Olympians Hidilyn Diaz and Elreen Ando.
“Hidilyn will get one, Elreen will get another one, and Sarno will probably get another one,” said Puentevella on the weekly program, “Power and Play.”
Sarno, who is from Tagbilaran, Bohol, lifted 103 kgs in the snatch, 128 kgs in the clean and jerk for a total of 231 in Tashkent, better than the gold medal-winning performance of Kristel Macrohon during the 2019 SEA Games.
Macrohon claimed the women’s 71-kg gold during the SEAG with her lifts of 93, 123 and 216.
Back in 2019, the country won two golds and three silvers to place third overall when the games were held in Manila.
At that time, Diaz (55 kgs) and Macrohon claimed the golds.
Ando seized a silver medal in the women’s 64kg, along with Margaret Colonia in the women’s 59kg.
Puentevella said it’s hard to predict the lifters in the men’s division, but he hopes that Olympian Nestor Colonia and John Ceniza will also deliver.
“Mabigat ang men’s category. But we’ll try to have medals there, too,” added Puentevella.