NAIROBI, Kenya, August 1- Her Olympics dream may have crashed at the first barrier but Kenyan weightlifter Mercy Obiero Apondi had all the reason to smile on Wednesday.
Despite crashing out of the women 69kg category during the heats, her place in history as the first Kenyan in her discipline to scale the Olympic heights is secure in addition to the bonus of her combined score of 181 being an East African record.
“I have learnt a lot in the past few days in terms of technique and I know I can only get better. The level of competition here is very high and it has been an eye opener of what I need to work on.
“My next aim is the Commonwealth Games where I will target winning my country a gold medal,” Obiero, 25, who was delighted with her effort though it placed her last among the ranked finishers in Heat B, said.
Obiero scored a best effort of 76 in Snatch before notching up 105 in the Clean and Jerk for her final tally having qualified for London as a wildcard entry by the World Weightlifting Federation.
The first Kenyan weightlifter to compete at the Olympics who attained a huge personal best during the qualifiers left for London hoping her debut will bring her sport to the national limelight.
“It is very unfortunate that I got recognition from the world body rather than here at home. I’m hoping this will change everything, the way weightlifting is seen here,” she said before leaving for London on July 3.
Canadian Marie-Eve Beauchemin won the heat with 239 followed by Tunisia’s Ghada Hassine (222) and Equador’s Rosa Silva (210).
During the competition, each lifter is allowed three attempts at the Snatch and three attempts at the Clean and Jerk.
Their best lift in each is combined to determine their overall result. If an athlete fails to make a valid lift with any of their three attempts in the snatch, they are eliminated.
When a tie occurs, the athlete with the lower bodyweight is declared the winner. If two athletes lift the same total weight and have the same bodyweight, the winner is the athlete who lifted the total weight first.
Three referees judge the success of each attempt, indicating with either a red or a white light.
Loaders are responsible for ensuring that the bar is in the right position and loaded with the correct weights. They must never touch the bar during the lift attempt.