Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024
Officials will have Vanessa Sarno checked to determine the cause of her fever. —AFP

Officials will have Vanessa Sarno checked to determine the cause of her fever.
—AFP

Around 4,700 kilometers away from Marikina City, where the Palarong Pambansa is rolling on at a feverish pace, Vanessa Sarno is proving why weightlifting deserves a regular spot in the country’s premier talent-identification sports event’s calendar. And she did that despite a bout with a high fever that left her hospitalized just three days before her competition.

The 19-year-old lifting prodigy seized the women’s 71-kilogram title at the end of the 2023 Asian Weightlifting Youth and Junior Championships on Wednesday without a hitch.

“I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I wasn’t feeling well the past few days, but I really wanted to compete,’’ said Sarno, who netted all three gold medals in her weight class.

It was a performance that had the country’s weightlifting chief toasting Sarno for having “the heart of a lion” even as her lifts were way off her normal output.

The current Southeast Asian Games record-holder and 2020 Asian champion from Tagbilaran City, Bohol, lifted 95 kgs in the snatch and 121 in the clean and jerk for a total of 216. Sarno’s best in the three events is 105-135-239.

Still, it was a valiant effort from the pride of Bohol, whose golden performance was enough to position the Philippines as the best in the continent with 19 gold medals in one week.

11 athletes

“We just told her to rest, but she insisted on competing. Vanessa has the heart of a lion,’’ said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella.

Team Philippines, represented in India by 11 athletes, also bagged 10 silver and four bronze medals.

According to Puentevella, they suspected that Sarno had an infected throat upon their arrival at the Indian capital last week.

Sarno’s fever was so high that she fainted at the hospital. Sarno stayed there overnight before Puentevella decided to bring her back to the hotel where she rested over the next three days.

“We were asked to sign a waiver after we insisted on her release,’’ said Puentevella, who was accompanied by coach Julius Naranjo at the hospital.

“Vanessa’s health is improving, but we will immediately ask for a complete checkup with the physician of the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) when she gets back home. We want to know if there’s really something wrong,’’ he added.

Sarno is one of the nation’s brightest hopes for a podium performance in the 2024 Paris Olympics, having placed second in the Asian championships three months ago in Jinju, South Korea. The Palarong Pambansa, which will run until Aug. 5, is hosting weightlifting competitions after a strong lobby by the likes of Puentevella.

But it is being held only as an exhibition sport.



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By Sandra Winters

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