By Andres Avila
Quito, May 26 (EFE).- Weightlifter Neisi Dajomes, one of Ecuador’s hopefuls for the Tokyo Olympic Games, has two objectives: first, to get into the best shape possible and avoid injuries, and second, to improve her scores and place within the top five in her category.
“For me, getting to Tokyo is a rather big challenge. These are my second Olympic Games” and “I have to take them with much more responsibility and do better work,” the 23-year-old told EFE in an interview.
“It was a rather drastic pandemic year. We had to stop our preparations, our training,” she said, but in late 2020 “we were able to start our training again, (although) practically from zero.”
Competing in the 76-kilogram category, Dajomes, like so many athletes, had to deal with different problems that cropped up due to the pandemic, including cancelled competitions that affected her training and forced her to train from home, but nothing has dampened her optimism about reaching her goal.
Weightlifting is one of the sports disciplines in which Ecuador has the best chances in the upcoming Olympics, along with walking and cycling.
Besides Dajomes, who is from Puyo, another 26 athletes have managed to qualify in track and field, cycling, pentathlon, shooting, table tennis, freestyle wrestling, boxing and horsemanship.
The first in-person weightlifting competitions took place earlier this year, including the Pan American Championship in the Dominican Republic, where Dajomes won three gold medals.
And in May she took nine gold medals in the South American and Ibero-American championships, and in the Open qualifiers for Tokyo 2021, held in Colombia, she finished in the No. 5 position in her category, one of the eight athletes in each category to qualify.
“We had little time, you could say, but with these two competitions that we had one right after the other we were able to provide the results and scores we wanted, which is the most important thing,” she said.
Top-level competition is not new to Dajomes, who began competing at a very young age, winning her first medals, including the gold at the Georgia 2016, Tokyo 2017 and Tashkent 2018 Youth Games, and two bronzes and a silver at the Senior World Championship in Pattaya, Thailand, in 2019.
The weightlifter said that, in contrast to her earlier qualification for the Rio 2016 Games, this time around the situation was more complicated, not least because the qualification now is individual.
Before, “qualification was by teams, the one that finished best would go,” but now each individual athlete “has to break through in each area and improve their scores in each competition.”
Besides that, she said that one needs the support of the authorities but must be “100 percent focused” and “not be thinking about whether or not the budget is there for the High Performance athletes.”
Among the Ecuadorian athletes who have qualified to take part in the Tokyo Games are Glenda Morejon in the 20 km race-walking event and Alex Quiñonez in the 200-meter sprint.
Also to represent Ecuador at the Games will be well-known cyclists Richard Carapaz and Jonathan Caicedo.
To date, Ecuador has won only two Olympic medals, both secured by iconic race-walker Jefferson Perez in the 20 km event in Atlanta 1996 and Beijing 2008.
Like Perez, Dajomes also wants to make history and become the first Ecuadorian women to win a much-desired Olympic medal.