Lidia Valentin has made history as the first women weightlifter to medal at three Olympic Games, having been belatedly awarded London 2012 Olympic gold at a ceremony in Madrid.
With a silver medal at Rio 2016 and a bronze from Beijing 2008, Valentin now joins an exceptionally-limited club, with a complete set of Olympic medals from three different Games.
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Valentin, 2017 and 2018 IWF Weightlifter of the Year, has shown great consistency throughout a career lifting in the 75-kg division having achieved World and European podium placings every year from 2007 to 2017, except in 2010, where despite lifting three kilogrammes more than in her third-place finish in 2009, finished fourth at the European Championships.
In 2018, following the IWF’s reorganisation of the bodyweight categories for men and women, Lidia Valentin moved up to 81-kg, winning gold with a total just one kilogramme lower than her Beijing 2008 finish a decade earlier.
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“Dedicating myself to weightlifting for an athletic career of nearly twenty years has brought me greater rewards than I could ever have imagined. I have made friends from every continent and lived some fantastic moments.
But to finally be able to hold the gold medal from London 2012 has filled me with so much joy,” said Valentin. “It has not been an easy period for the sport that I love, but this gold medal is clear proof that patience and honesty are rewarded.”
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Lidia Valentin had originally finished fourth, but reanalysis of London 2012 samples conducted by the IOC saw all three athletes who lifted more disqualified and handed suspensions for their abuse of anabolic agents.
At the Madrid-based ceremony, Valentin was accompanied by sporting and governmental officials, family, coaches and technical teams and media. Attending the event, IWF President Tamas Ajan said: “The protection of clean athletes is a team effort, and in this case the team has included the IWF, WADA and the IOC.”
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“The message of this effort is very clear: if you cheat, you will be detected. A stolen moment on a podium is limited in time. Lidia (Lidia Valentin) has shown with her patience as she waited for her London 2012 gold medal that she is a true champion and I know she has the admiration of the clean weightlifting community for this.”
Following the IOC’s reanalysis of the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 samples, the IWF has redoubled its anti-doping efforts, adopting the widespread recommendations of the Independent Clean Sport Commission.
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Countries with multiple anti-doping rule violations arising from those editions of the Olympic Games found themselves suspended from all competition for up to a year. New weight categories and corresponding world records have also been accompanied by a uniquely innovative Olympic Qualifying System that now sees countries with a track record of clean sport rewarded with spots in Olympic competition.