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Elreen Ann Ando in action. —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Elreen Ann Ando has been projected to be a big part of the future of Philippine weightlifting, something which will be tested in the Tokyo Olympics.

Although the strongest competitors in Ando’s weight category won’t be around, getting to the women’s -64kg podium in her first Olympics remains a tall order.

Aside from Taipei’s Chen Wen Huei who ruled the 2021 Asian championships, Ando has to outperform four other rivals outside of the continent, all of them equally raring to seize the golden opportunity from absentee Deng Wei of China.

“I was really surprised that I qualified for the Olympics. But I have been pushing myself to perform better when the competition comes,’’ said Ando, whose goal prior to her qualification in Tokyo was to be good enough for the 2024 Paris Olympics qualifying.

Hidilyn Diaz remains as the country’s bright weightlifting hope in her fourth Olympics.

Deng, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro gold medalist, five-time world champion and current record-holder in Ando’s weight class, has been sidelined by an injury and will miss defending her title.

Mercedes Perez of Colombia and Maude Charron of Canada are the favorites for the gold based on their performances during the 2019 world championships.

Perez claimed the bronze in the clean and jerk (132kg) and wound up fourth overall in the total (238kg) behind gold medalist Deng, second placer Rim Un-sim of North Korea.

Ando, currently No. 12 in the world rankings, lifted 98kgs in the snatch and 118 in the clean and jerk during the worlds for a 216-kg total.

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