By Rosa Membreño (La Prensa)
HAVANA TIMES – Silvia del Socorro Artola has dedicated 16 years to weightlifting and even in her youthful years she never lost the passion nor the enthusiasm for the discipline. As of now she is getting herself ready for the Central American Games of 2020, which are to be held in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, after having given Nicaragua three gold medals in the Central American Games of December 2017 in Managua.
“I have lost count of how many years I’ve spent training with weights, but I was seventeen when I began to practice. I’ve always carried weightlifting in my heart and in my blood,” said Artola.
She arrives at the Orlando Vasquez gym before 9 am, located in the Nicaraguan Sports Institution (IND) to train joyfully every day, just as she did in her adolescence.
“A year ago, I was took off due to my pregnancy, I missed everything, it’s rather difficult to stop doing it and now I feel more inspired – with more goals. I want to improve the records that I left behind in past years; I am going to give it my all in the training.” Added the outstanding athlete.
Artola is anxious to initiate her training; she doesn’t want to fail, yet she takes the time to tell us how her passion for weightlifting began.
“I started training out of necessity in the university gym (UNAH) in Managua. My family had low income and I was unable to pay for my studies, so the university offered me a scholarship to lift weights and study. Once it started, I never looked back.” She stated.
Silvia’s huge effort combined her sporting passion with her desire to succeed, allowing her to graduate as a lawyer.
“Weightlifting requires a lot of love and passion. You forget your problems and it helps with stress. When one goes to the gym we forget about our problems.” She confessed.
Before falling in love with weightlifting she first practiced Basketball.
“When I was in high school, I liked Basketball a lot but as I was small, I don’t think that I would have gone very far. However, with the weights, due to my size, condition and the strength that I’ve always had, it seemed I was born to be a weightlifter,” she said.
Silvia then added that she doesn’t know where her strength comes from, yet ever since being a little girl she liked to lift heavy objects.
“I don’t know if my strength would be something hereditary or if one develops it over time. Whenever my mother had to lift something – there I was, ‘the little man in the house’ as my sister told me. Perhaps that is how I developed the strength to lift heavy things – that a woman doesn’t normally do.
“With the weights, I developed more with my training and by doing squats. In my family nobody practices this discipline – only me. At the beginning, my mother was not on board with me practicing this sport, but then she supported me as my dad did,” said the athlete, who is also a coach
In Silvia’s sports life, not everything has been rosy but she has learned to win and lose. She also said that she’s had some great moments – like the one she lived in 2017 in Managua.
“The competition that I will never forget was the 2017 Central American Games held in Managua – where I won three gold medals. Competing in my country and hearing the applause of my people was my greatest satisfaction in this sport,” she said proudly.
Artola won the three gold medals in the 63 kilo category. She lifted 79 kilos in the snatch and 100 kilos in the clean and jerk.
“One of the things that my parents taught me – was to get ahead. I have never liked being second to anyone but to stand out”, said Artola, who handles the legal affairs of the Nicaraguan Weightlifting Federation.
The hardest thing in an athlete’s career is dealing with injuries, something that Artola has managed to both face and cope with.
“In the sport of weights, sometimes you put extra strength into it because you want to excel, but as in any sport, injuries happen and sometimes you have to train with injuries. In 2009 I injured my left shoulder; it was a strong injury, however I continued training and arrived at the 2010 Central American Games in Panama where I competed and won three gold medals with that injury. It was an odyssey and here I am still waging war,” said the athlete.
Divides her time
She divides her time between her workouts, her job and her daughter. “After the birth and with the love of my daughter I am now more in love with life and eager to overcome – she is my inspiration,” she said.
The Central American Games of 2021 in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, is the athlete’s current main objective.
“I plan to train and get stronger and if there is any competition in the year, I will go at it hard but I want to win again in the Central American Games. Due to my pregnancy I am now in a higher weight category in which I have previously competed, but the idea is to lose weight – all depending on how the chances of gaining a medal are,” she added.
It is not a male sport
The athlete defends the presence of women in weightlifting. “This myth, which says that weights are only lifted by men or that they’ll give you a man’s body is not true. Women practice, women worldwide… Weights are not only for men, but for women who want to get ahead and want to develop strength, we must forget this myth that weights are for men,” she argued.
Silvia, 35, does not believe that the 2021 Central American Games are going to be her last competition.
“I think that over the years what changes is performance. It is an athlete’s decision if he or she wants to retire or continue training. As long as one has discipline and continues to possess passion,” she said.
“My daughter will like weights too because she’ll grow up in this environment and she’s already a very strong girl,” concluded the accomplished athlete.