Evergreen Perez stamps dominance at St. Louis

Mexican legend triumphs with best lift of 132kg; Brazil, Chile dominate first two days of competition while Panama bag first international medal 10 Jul 2022
Amalia Perez reacts after a lift.
Mexico's Amalia Perez reacts after her best lift of 132kg to win women's up to 61kg gold at St. Louis 2022.
ⒸHiroki Nishioka
By Sean Cavanaugh | For World Para Powerlifting

Mexican legend Amalia Perez continued her dominance cruising to third crown as the 2022 Parapan American Open Championships got off to a thrilling start in St. Louis on Friday (8 July). Medals were awarded in 11 weight classes in the first two days of competition.

Perez, who has four Paralympic and four World Championship titles to her credit, successfully lifted 132kg in the third round to add another Americas championship title to her illustrious career. 

With her recent success, the evergreen powerlifter has won every gold in her weight class of up to 61kg since the Americas regional championships were introduced. 

“Despite the path and history, I have in powerlifting, I am still very emotional. I am still enjoying competing and want to continue to show that women have a role in Para sport, and that is empowered by the competitions,” said an ecstatic Perez. 

Sportsmanship at its best

In the first event of the weekend, Emanuela Romano of Italy and Maria Luzineide Santos de Oliveira of Brazil shared gold in the women’s up to 50kg class. A beautiful sign of sportsmanship. 

They were not the only duo to bask in the glory. 

Hellen Wawira Kariuki traveled a long way from Kenya to compete in these American Open Championships and is not going home empty handed. Kariuki shared gold with Lara Aparecida de Lima of Brazil in the women’s up to 41kg class. 

“I have been training so hard to be here. I thank God for success in this event, I now know I can do better. Even better than this,” said Kariuki. 

Chilean lifters on a roll

Elsewhere in the women’s competition, Camila Campos clinched the gold in the up to 55kg class to put Chile on the medals table in St. Louis. 

Campos' teammate Jorge Carinao won his third gold at an Americas Championship with a lift of 181kg in the men’s up to 65kg class. 

The Chilean success did not end there as Juan Carlos Garrido Acevedo screamed his guts out in jubilation after lifting 185kg to win the men’s up to 59kg. Acevedo's effort was enough to edge out firm favourite Herbert Aceituno of El Salvador who had won gold in the Asian Open Championships in Pyeongtaek last month.

Two US athletes, competing in their home state of Missouri, also grabbed gold in the men’s up to 59kg. Jacob Herbert and David Horvath took the 1-2 position in the total category on their home turf. 

Herbert was competing for something bigger than just gold, “I did it for my nan (grandfather). He passed away last year and never got to see me win a medal. So, this medal is for him,” said a delighted Herbert. 

Brazilian dominance on Day 2

The national anthem of Brazil could be heard all day long on the second day of competition. 

Brazilian Joao Maria Franca Jr. provided his country the breakthrough with resounding win in the men’s up to 54kg class. Maria Rizonade da Silva then swelled the medals tally for Brazil with another gold in the women’s up to 45kg class. 

Day 2 continued with other highlights.

Rey Melchor Dimas Vasquez captured the first ever major international powerlifting medal for Panama with his gold in the men’s up to 72kg. 

Italian Donato Telesca posted a monster lift of 200kg to win gold in the Open competition of the men’s up to 80kg class. 

Colombian teammates Johnny Andres Morales Gonzalez (men’s up to 49kg) and Francisco Tulio Palomeque Palacios (men’s up to 80kg) took home gold.

The action in St. Louis continues with two more days of powerlifting. 

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