Among established figures, well known by weightlifting fans in our country, such as Luis Manuel Lauret, Olfides Sáez and Marina Rodríguez, also appearing on the roster of eight weightlifters who will attend the Lima Games are several young athletes, who will experience the most important competition of their careers in Peru. Among these young weightlifters is Arley Calderón, a 20-year-old from Pinar del Rio, who competes in the 61 kilogram division.
- How did you arrive on the national team?
Three years ago I entered the National School, previously I was in the EIDE (high performance sports high school) in Pinar del Río, where I was several times national champion. Once here, I was able to maintain those results and have obtained medals in several international events. This year I won the bronze medal in the Pan American qualifier in Guatemala, it was a very good event in my career, because I managed to improve on all my records, with 119 kg in the snatch, 150 clean and jerk, and 267 in the biathlon.
- Will Lima be the most important competition of your career?
Lima will be my first Pan-American Games, and one of the strongest events in which I have participated. The preparation has been optimal; our coaches have made an effort to achieve the best results during the event. If I manage to win a medal, it will be a dream come true, but breaking my personal records is my main objective. Our region is one of the strongest in the world, with great powers like the United States and Colombia. The commitment is difficult, but I will always be my own main rival.
- How difficult is life as a high performance athlete in this sport?
It is very complicated; almost every day there is double training, more if an event of such importance is coming up. We practically don’t have a social life, we live among ourselves. Sunday is our only day off, and we need to recover energy.
Weightlifting has been included in the Pan American Games’ program since the first edition was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1951. Cuba holds all time first place in weightlifting, with a total of 67 gold medals, 22 silver, and nine bronze, followed by the United States (48-28-23).
In Toronto 2015, two gold medals were won, with an equal number of silver and bronze, results that led to a third place on the medal chart by country. This year, only the biathlon event will be held, and Cuban hopes are modest. Nonetheless, most important for this new rising generation of athletes is doing their best.