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The last lift of the strongest woman in Spain

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They are the fourth Games of Lydia Valentín, who aspires to hang her fourth Olympic medal in a category with a weight greater than her own.

Lydia’s name, with Greek Y, was not given by her parents. Nor was anyone gambling because a teenage girl who was good at track and field and basketball ended up lifting weights. Not that an Olympic champion came out of a town of León with 4,000 inhabitants in a sport that few knew in Spain until she arrived.

Lydia valentin (36 years) has always rowed against the current of parameters that many might consider logical or obvious. No one but her has three Olympic medals, but only one photo on the podium. No one else received one of the metals, the one that was silver, a decade after the competition. And, surely, there is no other weightlifting champion who wears a wristband of Hello Kitty as a charm. Not bad at all with him.

How could it be otherwise, Lydia Valentín, the Samson from El Bierzo, has had to travel to Tokyo by the most difficult path, competing in unequal conditions, lifting a weight much higher than his. And that a priori was going to have the horizon cleared for his fourth medal in the Games. Due to massive doping cases, Russian weightlifters were disqualified and 16 other countries could not enter more than one or two athletes in all tests. Lydia, who had to compete at -76 kilos, was not going to face the rivals of many of the great powers.

Wait for the afternoon

What he did not count on was that a gastroenteritis prevented him from participating in the European and obtaining the ticket in his category. He had to change weight and appear in the Pre-Olympic of Colombia to be able to arrive in Tokyo in the -87 kilos modality. Lydia landed with a mark of 80.60 kg, much lower than that of her opponents.

But the Leonese has not thrown in the towel despite starting in the final B, four hours before the favorites play the final A, so she will have to wait for the afternoon shift to know her future. At the Tokyo International Forum, a gigantic congress and exhibition center 800 meters from the Imperial Palace where the emperor resides Naruhito, Lydia was the fourth to come out onto a platform in the middle of a stage overloaded with false red walls.

The Spanish commanded to put 100 kilos in snatch to start, while her rivals started with 80 kilos. Lydia picked them up. Also his second pass of 103 kilos. His turn came, he stood in front of the bar, closed his eyes for a few seconds while sighing like meditation, and hands to the weight.

Fail at 106 kilos

Lydia failed the third lift of 106 kilos, although she added the best score of her group in the first round. In the second, he started lifting 122 kilos. That was her final mark because pain in her shoulder made her give up the other two attempts. Finally she finished second, awaiting the results of the Group A contest, where the dumbbells with the best mark appear.

These Tokyo Games will surely be the last for those who at the age of 15 left their town, Camponaraya, in the El Bierzo region, and moved to the Joaquín Blume Residence in Madrid. A year later, he won his first European championship.

Lydia is the only Spanish medalist in three Games in a row: gold in London, silver in Beijing and bronze in Rio. Although he picked up two of his three metals time after competing, without the applause or the glamor of the stage. A new medal in Tokyo will allow him to match the Olympic resumes of Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Andrea Fuentes Y Mireia Belmonte, with four medals each.