There have been too many setbacks in recent times, so when she set foot on Japanese soil, two weeks ago, Lydia Valentín knew perfectly well how she was getting there and that achieving her fourth Olympic medal at 36, in as many Games, was going to be a practically impossible mission. . “I was not coming at my best moment or my best performance. He hadn’t trained for three days and it’s been many years, and miracles… No ”, he confirms in the dialogue with the journalists gathered in the mixed zone, after giving up the last two executions this Monday and, therefore, abandoning a competition that he faced jagged and that originally had already posed serious difficulties.
“Before coming I had already had hip problems; in fact, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to compete here or not, ”says the Spaniard, who had signed a wonderful sequence from 2008 until now: silver in Beijing, gold in London and bronze in Rio de Janeiro. Three metals chained from 2008 to 2016. However, the entanglement generated in the qualifying system and, consequently, the toll suffered by his body, penalized for having to compete against the clock in a category that does not correspond to him, force him to put the brakes on . “They infiltrated the Villa,” he details on the physical plane. “And the International Federation does whatever it wants,” he criticizes in organizational terms.
The Leonese refers to the gastroenteritis that separated him from the European and forced him to compete in the Pre-Olympic of Colombia in an unknown and aggressive territory, well above the usual -76 kilos, in the -87 group. “Having to gain so much weight and so fast has caused me health problems,” he reproaches; “They changed the rules two months before coming to the Games and people did not know where to start or what kind of classification we were going to have; I have been very lost, all the people in the environment have been and that is not good for the athlete ”.
The disruption meant that to ensure access to Tokyo he had to leave his natural space in the competition, and the drastic change has ended up taking its toll. And that the morning has not started badly at all, because he executes his first lift with determination, 100 kilos over head and shoulders in the snatch technique; then he takes hold of the bar and reaches 103, and five minutes later he tries 106, but the attempt is null. So far normality, but in the second phase, in the two-stage technique, the scene in the back room that is captured by the monitors in the room worries.
Uncertainty and the eye of the IOC
Valentine makes a gesture of pain. He has lifted 122 kilos, but the thing does not work, and finally he does not go to the platform for the two remaining attempts while his rivals are accumulating points. She is second in group B, difficult landscape. And give up. “At the start I already felt that I was not moving my legs well, it was difficult for me to get down, and once I had made the first attempt I saw that everything started to get complicated. I tried to warm up a little more, but I was already in a lot of pain, “he explains in a neutral tone and wanting to go back. Withdrawal, nothing.
If the script is not twisted, the Olympic route points to the Paris Games three years from now. And there she goes, although by then the number of categories may be reduced (from seven to five pesos) and therefore, the number of classifieds. It also points to the watchful eye of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which does not lose sight of a sport repeatedly plagued by doping. Much uncertainty ahead, then. But it won’t be for her. “Now I have it clearer than ever, because I would have liked to have finished my career in the Games, in my weight class and without all this mess from this last year,” he laments.
A “weird” feeling
The four-time world champion, the only Spanish weightlifter who has tasted Olympic glory, remembers that until the misfortune of the last European Championship she had completed a very good Olympic cycle. He still looks strong, so he will return to the charge. “I want to be at the Games being who I am, in my category and giving my best. Now I’m left with a strange feeling and I don’t want to say goodbye like this, like this. What can I tell people? Let them follow me, because there is still Lydia Valentín for a while ”, he warns with an inner rage, but a cold and controlled speech:“ It didn’t seem fair to me ”.
However, it was coming. Confused by the qualifying knot, she risked entering the -87 to be yes or yes in Tokyo, and the exploration of the new limits has not worked. “Lydia has shown her face, the medal was almost impossible. Today he had nine in front of him and he qualified blindly, to make sure at least he could come here. He played it to a card ”, they transmit from the Spanish Federation (RFEH) of Weightlifting. In any case, Valentin closes by commenting that he has been happy these days, and promises revenge: “Now more than ever.”
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