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Yusleidy Figueroa Trains for Toronto: The Sportswoman’s First Pan-American Games

Yusleidy Figueroa Trains for Toronto: The Sportswoman’s First Pan-American Games

Posted by Dubraswka Aguilar on July 03, 2015

Venezuelan weightlifter Yusleidy Figueroa is one of the 7,000 athletes from 41 countries of the continent to participate in Toronto Pan-American Games, July 2015.

In her first continental event, the weightlifter is looking forward to surpassing the representatives from Colombia, Dominican Republic and Mexico, who she thinks are the stronger rivals in the region. And Figueroa perfectly knows what she says, since she already faced them during the past Veracruz Central American and Caribbean Games, where she got the bronze medal in the 58kg category.

Right in that competition, Yusleidy Figueroa got her best numbers since she began practicing this sport. “During my 10-year experience in weightlifting, I achieved my best results in November when I could handle 95 (kg.) in snatch and 120 (kg.) in clean & jerk.”

As for the upcoming Pan-American Games, the Venezuelan weightlifter says to be ready to do her best: “let’s keep in mind that I’ve been on the podium in all the events of the Olympic cycle (Bolivarian, Central American and South American Games)”, she pointed out.

When she was asked about the popular opinion that defines weightlifting as a men’s sport, this Venezuelan woman that also studies to be a nurse answered that the musculature developed by female weightlifters don’t make them be “mannish. We’re pretty and feminine.”

From Athletics to Weightlifting

Yusleidy teed off her sports career by practicing athletics when she was in high school.  “They were looking for talent at Liceo Caracas and I went to the tests, but I didn’t stay. My teachers recommended me to choose weightlifting due to my body contexture and height (1,53mt.)”, she recalled.

She began practicing this sport at the age of 12, in the 53kg category. “I didn’t like it at the beginning, I wasn’t comfortable, but I kept on training. My relatives used to say that it was a men’s sport. Everything changed when I went to a 12-15 Pan-American competition in Mexico. I ranked 1 and I was distinguished as the most outstanding athlete in the championship”, Figueroa explained.

There was a moment in her career when Eurelis Morao, who was in charge of training her, suggested a change of category. “When I started losing weight I felt weak, dizzy. Then we decided to raise the category”, the Venezuelan sportswoman said.

Her training sessions are presently guided by Jorge Rivero, the man working with the national female weightlifting team. She is working double sessions (morning and afternoon), three times a week, to be ready for 2015 Toronto. The program also includes three days with morning trainings.

“When I have classes, I have training in different hours, not with the rest of the team. My trainer has helped me a lot, as I must be at the gym at 5 a.m. and return at 7 p.m. for another 2 hours”, Figueroa expressed.

As for any problem to be faced by female weightlifters, she emphatically said that “women have no problem at all. We establish our own limits. Some people even think that female weightlifters are mannish and ugly, and that’s not true.”

Physically, she thinks that her strength is based on her legs, so she’s very comfortable with the clean & jerk movement, when lower extremities play the leading role in terms of the stability and correct body position.

However, the stronger aspects of her life are “my trainers and my family that constantly motivate and support me. You can’t grow as an athlete without these two pillars”, she highlighted.

Her eyes are now focused on Toronto Games and, afterward, the World Qualifying competitions that would clear her way to 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

She pointed out that, in terms of her growth as an athlete, the Pan-American Games are “especially meaningful, because they are one of the most important competitions carried out every 4 years as part of the Olympic cycle.”

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