Is Oscar Figueroa Coming Out of Retirement?

Oscar Figueroa knows about struggle — it took him four appearances at the Olympic Games to finally win a gold medal, which he did in Rio at age 33 when he totaled 318 kilograms (701 pounds) in the 62kg category. He completed a snatch of 142kg (313lb) and a clean & jerk of 176kg (388lb).

Tearfully, he took off his shoes after his lift, signifying that after winning the sport’s highest honor, he was officially retiring.

That is, until he quietly posted this training clip to his Instagram yesterday.

“Tokyo 2020, I hope,” reads the caption.

As far as we know, Figueroa hasn’t released any more information regarding this goal, but he might not be the only (roughly) 37-year-old weightlifter in Tokyo — the 77kg Lu Xiaojun has also hinted that he hopes to return to the Olympics.

It’s possible that Figueroa was motivated to return to the sport after The Olympic Channel premiered their documentary about Figueroa this week, entitled “Against All Odds.”

That’s the trailer for the documentary, but you can watch the full eight and a half minutes of the film over on the Olympic Channel’s website here. (Note that you may have to log in with your Facebook or email to get it to play.)

I think we have to struggle all of our lives. Because life is just moments, episodes. Bad, regular, good. At home I was taught to work hard to be number one. They say I have a bad temper. I have a strong personality, which is different. I am the kind of person who just says yes or no.

It’s a fantastic, beautifully shot documentary, and though it’s relatively short it’s truly impressive in its depth. It doesn’t just provide gorgeous, diverse footage of Colombia itself, you also learn how the sport of weightlifting is developing in the country.

In addition to intimate interviews with Figueroa, we’re taken to this childhood weightlifting gym and introduced to his matronly former trainer Damaris Delgado, who helped sculpt Figueroa into an elite athlete. (“He knew absolutely nothing about weightlifting,” she says. “But he learned the technique in one day.”)

Figueroa repeatedly says that everyone needs to struggle. From being unable to lift the bar in Beijing to a diagnosis of a cervical hernia, Figueroa knows a thing or two about struggle.

Trying to medal at age thirty-seven might be his biggest yet.

Featured image via @iwfnet on Instagram.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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