From Mexico to Toronto? Argentina’s lifters zone in

The Argentinian powerlifting team is training hard for the 2015 IPC Powerlifting Americas Open Championships, a key step towards the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games. 08 Apr 2015
Powerlifting at the Parapans

Powerlifting at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico

By Hernan Goldzycher | for the IPC

“If I get to Mexico and Toronto in good conditions, I want to win a medal and qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, my biggest dream.”

Argentina’s Lucas Gareca and Karen Rodriguez dream of success at the 2015 IPC Powerlifting Americas Open Championships in Mexico City between 26-29 April, as they try to qualify for the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.

If they make it to Canada they will double the size of their team from the last Parapans in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2011, which featured Pablo Melgar and David Coronel, who has already booked his ticket in the men’s up to 65kg category.

“We seek to set personal records, achieve the qualification standards for Toronto 2015 and win the title,” said Sofía Cadona, who has been Argentina’s national coach since last year.

“Their willingness to train hard every day is outstanding,” Cadona continued. “I am confident that we will have a good performance. However, it will be very tough considering that powerlifting’s international level is getting higher each year.”

Gareca, who competes in the men’s up to 88kg, is a rising star of the team. In 2014 he won the junior title at the IPC Powerlifting World Championships, in Dubai, UAE.

“It was very nice, very special. I will never forget the moment I won the title” Gareca said. “But that is part of the past now. I am only thinking about lifting up 142kg in Mexico in order to obtain qualification for Toronto 2015.

“I am very optimistic. I hope everything goes well for the team. I feel I have one foot stepping in Toronto, while the other one is about to.

“Besides, Toronto is a good test to check if my level is good enough to participate at Rio 2016. It is not impossible. There is still time and I am working hard for that.”

Rodriguez, 20, will represent her country in the women’s up to 55kg. Alongside her training she is also studying to become an English teacher.

“I am very happy, but also a bit nervous and anxious for the competition to begin,” she said. “I think about Toronto and I get very excited.”

The development of the team is not limited to the seniors, showing that new lifters are coming through for the future. Rodrigo Villamarin is also going to Mexico 2015 competing in the juniors category and hoping to set a new Americas record.

Meanwhile Melgar, 28, said he is “very proud of representing Argentina at an international event again, in Mexico.”

“If I qualify, Toronto 2015 will be my second Parapan American Games. They will be an award for all the effort and dedication I have made for so many years. Besides, I am more experienced now after competing at Guadalajara 2011.”

In order to achieve his goal, he will have to lift 159kg in the men’s up to 59kg. “I am very excited about this possibility. Besides, I also want to qualify for the first Paralympic Games in South America, in 2016,” he said.

Paralympian Coronel plans to outdo his performance at Guadalajara 2011, when he just missed out on the podium in fourth. However he is worried about tendinitis in his right shoulder.

“I can’t do my best now because of that. I have had this pain since I competed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The time is running out, but I am working very hard to overcome it,” he said.

“If I get to Mexico and Toronto in good conditions, I want to win a medal and qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, my biggest dream.”

Mexico City 2015 will feature around 120 lifters from 25 countries, all vying for qualification for Rio 2016 and Toronto 2015 for athletes from the Americas.

Toronto 2015 will take place between 7-15 August and will feature around 1,600 athletes from 28 countries competing in 15 sports. Tickets are on sale now.