Weightlifting-Clementina Agricole happy to make long-awaited return to competition


Agricole dressed in an Indian costume on the day she returned to Seychelles following her first operation“I’m happy I’m back competing and I’m raring to go,” Agricole told Sports Nation in an interview after competing in the National Championship at the Bel Ombre community centre on Saturday.

Unchallenged in the 58kg class, she finished with an Olympic total of 140kg – 60kg snatch and 80kg clean & jerk.

Agricole had been out for just over two years, recovering from a brain tumour and it must have been a painful comeback for this young lady who has endured a lot.

“It wasn’t easy watching from the sidelines knowing how much you really want to do what you like doing best. In fact, I’ve been training for the past three or four months in preparation for Saturday’s National Championship. Before that I still jogged at Mont Buxton and at the fitness trail at Roche Caïman. From the trail, I went to the gym to do some light workout,” noted Agricole.

Many people would have felt their whole life had changed when they were told they have a tumor, but the 24-year-old said she was quite strong and believed she would regain her health and fitness.

“It wasn’t easy to cope with the fact that I have a tumour in my brain, but I kept faith in God knowing He would never let me down.

“After a second operation in November 2011, some people even told me not to worry about going back to weightlifting. Even my mum discouraged me at first. But since the doctors gave me the green light to train again and compete, she has been very supportive,” said Agricole, who added that she also had doubts about whether she would be able to successfully make her comeback.

“It wasn’t that I was afraid, but rather had doubts. I’ve now overcome all my doubts. I want to succeed in 2013, I want to do well in all competitions I take part but I’m not really one for talking, I just want to get out there and show that I can do it with my performances on the platform,” she added.

Now older and wiser and the tumor woes behind her, Agricole is relishing the prospect of contesting at the Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games and World Weightlifting Championship.

“I guess I’ve some unfinished business in the sport of weightlifting. This is what has pushed me to make a comeback. I’ve been to the Commonwealth Games but I missed the gold medal when I had to stop competing. Now I want to train and win it. As for the Olympic Games, I feel I could have won at least a bronze in London this year had I been fit to compete. Then I want to take part in the World Championship. It’s only after taking part in these three competitions and winning medals that I can call it quit,” said Agricole who won the women’s senior 53kg category Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships gold medal – the country’s first ever – in Penang, Malaysia, in October 2009 after finishing with an Olympic total of 177kg (77kg in snatch and 100kg in clean & jerk).

Her personal best efforts in the 58kg class are 83kg in snatch and 105kg in clean & jerk for an Olympic total of 188kg.

Agricole in a training session

“I feel I can get back to my old best with more training. I had dropped 4kg, but since resuming gym training, I’m now back to my normal body weight of 58kg. I’m feeling positive about the future,” noted Agricole who has taken a week off before resuming training next week.

Agricole was operated on to remove a brain tumour at the G. B. Pant Hospital in Delhi in October 2010 after she had completed her event at the Commonwealth Games in India.

Agricole missed out on a bronze medal by 1kg in the 58kg weight category, finishing with an Olympic total of 187kg (87kg in snatch and 100kg in clean & jerk) at the Games. She finished fourth out of 13 competitors.

“I’m happy I’m alive. God is great and He saved me. He gave me life instead of a medal. But I’ll be back to win more medals for Seychelles,” Agricole told the press when she returned to Seychelles on October 22, 2010 dressed in an Indian costume.

Agricole added upon her return that it’s her faith in God that got her through it all, but “I’ll never forget 10-10-10 (October 10, 2010). This is the day I discovered I had a tumour and had to make a big decision in my life. I went into the operating theatre at 9am and came out at 8.30pm.”

India's Renu Bala Chanu Yumnam won the Commonwealth games gold medal with 197kg (90kg in snatch and 107kg in clean & jerk), while Australia's Seen Lee took the silver with 192kg (86kg in snatch and 106kg in clean & jerk). Zoe Smith of England finished with 188kg (85kg in snatch and 103kg in clean & jerk) to take the bronze medal.

“I started feeling pain in my right arm in the snatch event and failed my second attempt at 87kg. I persevered and lifted the load in the third,” said Agricole upon her return to Seychelles after the Commonwealth Games.

“I lifted 100kg in my first clean & jerk attempt. Then I cleaned the bar at 105kg but did not jerk as the pain was getting worse. Doctor Kenneth Sherwin told me to call it a day as I was in severe pain.

“If it was not for his advice and the pain, I would have persevered because I knew I could win the gold medal. I don’t have the gold medal, but I’m happy I’m alive. I thank God, my mother, grandmother and Michel Bau for being by my side when I needed support,” Agricole told Sports Nation when he reached Seychelles.

G. G.