The Spanish anthem sounded at the Hualing Tbilisi hotel (Georgia) and golden tears rolled down his cheeks. Loida Zabala, with a 16-year career in Paralympic weightlifting, has just been proclaimed European champion. One of the most important achievements of her career. She didn’t hit her best marks, it didn’t matter either. She easily surpassed her rivals to hang a gold medal in which there is a lot of work, perseverance and sacrifice behind her.
In 2007, at the age of 20, she won in the junior category in Kavala (Greece), but at the absolute level she only had two European bronzes, in Aleskin (Russia) 2013 and in Berck Sur Mer (France) 2018. The athlete from Losar de la Vera (Cáceres) has started the qualifying process for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in the best possible way, imposing her reign in the -50 kilos category.
She was among the favourites, but she had to prove it on the bench press. ‘Explanation’, by Jincheng Zhang, was playing, and Loida appeared on the Georgian stage with her big clear eyes and very concentrated. After a few taps on her arms and visualizing her movement, she arched her back and raised the disc-laden steel bar skyward. Lifting of 93 kilos valid. Mischievous smile on her face, aware that the gold was already in her pocket, she only had to wait a few minutes to confirm her triumph.
His maximum pursuer, the Italian Emanuela Romano, stayed at 88 kilos, she was unable to move the bar with 93 kilos that she had requested in the last attempt. The Spanish, knowing she was champion, could not lift 96 kilos in the next two, but it did not matter, the European throne was hers. Kazakh Aizhan Berimkulova (70 kilos) completed the podium with bronze. Magnificent result from Loida to start the new cycle towards Paris 2024. The Extremaduran, who has achieved diplomas in Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, wants to be in her fifth Games.
“I am very excited for two reasons, the first to get the gold medal, which is something I did not expect, and the second and most important is for the Spanish and Dominican friends of the public who were supporting me”, she commented. She has not finished her adventure in this European yet, as she will also participate in the team event. And she will do it accompanied by David Gómez (-49 kilos) and Isabel Fernández (-55 kilos), athletes who have received the help of sports material and training planning through the Loida Zabala Foundation. The two will compete next Tuesday, while the Catalan Montse Alcoba (-79 kilos) will do so this Monday.