One of the most touching stories of Olympic triumph — one you might never have heard before — is that of weightlifting champion Oscar Figueroa.
Over the course of his athletic career, the 37-year-old has had the chance to compete in the Olympic Games four different times. But with those competitions came plenty of heartbreak and disappointment before he finally got his victory.
In the 2004 Olympic Games, Figueroa’s first appearance, he had a less-than-perfect performance but was still able to swing a fifth-place finish.
He looked forward to the 2008 Beijing Games as a way to redeem himself. Unfortunately, just two weeks before the big event, he ended up with a hand injury. This injury set him back severely in his weightlifting and ended up costing him the competition.
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By the London Games in 2012, Figueroa came back readier than ever. He had an incredible run that year and took home the silver medal.
But in spite of all he’d already experienced, he still aimed higher. In 2016, he headed to Rio to earn the highest prize — and claim that prize he did!
After his final lift, knowing just how incredible his performance had been, Figueroa fell to the ground in tears. In a few moments, he took off his shoes and put them on the stage, symbolizing his decision to finally retire from his time as an Olympian. Amazingly enough, he took home the gold that year!
No matter how hard he fell, he never gave up, serving as a powerful example of hope, perseverance, and determination. Now, he can officially say he is the first Colombian man to have ever taken home the gold in his category.
“I was so low in Beijing, and I am so high here,” he told IWF at the 2016 Olympics. “It’s 22 years since I started and now is the time to retire. … But I am full of emotion — it’s as though I was lifting for the whole country, and those tears were for all of Colombia.”
Watch his inspiring journey play out in the video below, and share his amazing story with a friend.
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