(ATR) It was a unique ceremony at the international level since the decree of the global pandemic.
The Pan American Weightlifting Federation (PAWF) inaugurated its Hall of Fame through an online ceremony on Saturday in which 27 members of the sport were inducted.
Karyn Marshall lifting in 1987 (Wikimedia Commons)
During the gala, which lasted approximately two hours, it was revealed that seven members of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Hall of Fame from the Americas were added to the initial class of 20 for Pan American honors.
They are the athletes Tommy Kono (USA), Norbert Schemansky (USA), Tara Cunningham (USA), and Karyn Marshall (USA); the referee Philippe Saint-Cyor (Canada) and the directors Clarence Johnson (USA) and Miguel Niño (Nicaragua).
Thanks to new video communication technologies, the Pan American federation was able to broadcast the ceremony co-sponsored in Havana by the Cuban Olympic Committee, and transmit images and messages from athletes, coaches, leaders and exalted referees from all over the Americas.
Cuba was the country with the largest number of inductees with 11.
International and regional sports leaders also participated in the ceremony, praising the PAWF initiative at a time when the Olympic Movement fights against the sense of hopelessness created by the coronavirus pandemic.
The interim president of the IWF, Ursula Papandrea of the USA, believes projects such as the Hall of Fame allow the work of the selected personalities "to be recognized not for a day but for a lifetime".
The president of Panam Sports and IOC member Neven Ilic of Chile stressed the willingness to work together with the PAWF "in these difficult times" to guarantee the athletes adequate preparation for the postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The head of the PAWF, the Peruvian José Quiñones, says he argued for the creation of the Hall of Fame given the more than 100 years of the sport in the Americas.
“We discussed many times in our federation what to do for a better future of our sport on the continent. And precisely when one speaks of the future, one must begin by recognizing the past,” he said.
Panam Cup virtual weightlifting competition was held last month. (IWF)
The IWF Secretary General, Mohammed Jalood from Iraq, highlighted the online conferences and competitions organized by the Pan American federation with the support of the IWF amid the paralysis of world sport due to Covid-19.
Canada's Christine Girard spoke on behalf of the athletes. In 2016, following the re-analysis of the Beijing 2008 samples, Girard rose from fourth place to bronze in the 63kg. For the same reason, she went from bronze to gold at London 2012.
Speaking to Around the Rings,
she said the Hall of Fame is "a great initiative".
“With so much negative news lately, both in general and specific about weightlifting, I think it's great to pause and focus on some of the amazing and positive contributions to the world of Pan American weightlifting,” Girard said.
“The Pan American Games and Championships have always held a special place in my heart. I hope that this initiative helps to strengthen the friendship between the Pan American nations.
“Any time I have the opportunity to share my story, I hope it helps spread the message of how important clean, doping-free sport is. I hope my induction helps inspire clean sport," said the retired weightlifter and mother of three.
Sports leaders such as the president of the Association of Pan American Confederations, Guatemalan Francisco Lee, the president of the Colombian Olympic Committee, Baltazar Medina, and the president of Mexican Olympic Committee and first vice president of Panam Sports, Carlos Padilla, were present on the historic "video ceremony".
The president of Cuban Olympic Committee, Roberto León Richards and other members of the Executive Committee of the Pan American Weightlifting, Gustavo Malgor and William Peña, had an active participation too.
The gratitude of the parents of the late athlete Soraya Jiménez, the first Mexican Olympic champion with her gold in Sydney 2000, and a remembrance of the legendary Argentine heavyweight Humberto Selvetti by Mario Moccia, COA general secretary, were emotional moments of the online evening .
Selvetti was the first Spanish-speaking weightlifter to climb the Olympic podium, in Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956.
An emotional scene was the delivery of the certificate as a member of the Hall of Fame to former Cuban weightlifter Pastor Rodriguez, very ill at home in Havana.
Reported by Miguel Hernandez
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