May 25, 2024

Unexpected 300kg: Weightlifter John Febuar Ceniza looks back on Olympic berth-clinching performance

Unexpected 300kg: Weightlifter John Febuar Ceniza looks back on Olympic berth-clinching performance
John Febuar Ceniza lifted a total of 300kg in the IWF World Cup. | Photo (c) Philippine Olympic Committee

John Febuar Ceniza admitted he didn't expect he would be able to lift a total of 300kg during the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup in Thailand last week.

His performance in the event--the last qualifiers for weightlifters--assured the 26 year old Cebuano a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Why was it unexpected?

Well, he was, and still is, nursing a hip injury sustained back in February.

"'Di ko inakala na nakuha ko ['yung] 300kg. Kasi sa training, 'di ko magawa. 'Di ko mabuhat talaga 'yun," Ceniza shared on One News' The Big Story on Thursday.

"Hindi naman ako nag-eexpect na makasali sa Olympics, pangarap lang. And then dun sa Phuket, sa performance ko, hindi ko alam 'yung naka-300kg ako, sa coach ko lang 'yung ano. Basta ako mag-buhat lang."

Ceniza was the only lifter from Group A in the 61kg division to improve on his best total in the Olympic Qualifying Rankings (OQR). His previous best was 298kg, registered in Doha.

In the IWF World Cup, Ceniza cleared 132kg in snatch but failed at 134kg. He did better in clean & jerk, finishing with 168kg.

His total of 300kg put him in fifth place so far in the OQR, well within the top ten for the Olympics.

[ALSO READ: 2024 Olympics watch: Vanessa Sarno sets new Philippine record en route to Paris berth

His motivation to push through despite his hip injury was simple.

"Train hard every day, forget your problems, that’s the way to prepare and that’s what I did," Ceniza told the IWF. "It’s my dream to be an Olympian, and to be the first man to win a weightlifting medal for the Philippines."

He would have to lift even better for a shot at a medal though.

Indonesia's Eko Irawan also finished with a best of 300kg, Italy's Sergio Massidda has 302kg, while USA's Hampton Morris lifted 303kg. The man to beat though, is China's Li Fabin who has cleared 314kg.

"Kahit anong kulay ng medal basta magka-medal lang," Ceniza told The Big Story.

He will be joined in Paris by fellow Cebuana Elreen Ando, as well as Vanessa Sarno. Other Filipinos who have secured Olympic berths are pole vaulter EJ Obiena; gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan; as well as boxers Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, and Aira Villegas.