Atenery Hernández broke the Spanish record in the 55 kg weight category at this year’s European Championships in Moscow. With a strong 83 kg snatch, the 26-year-old became the new record holder.
18 years ago, Victor Galván, a weightlifting coach on the small Canary Island of Tenerife, set out to find young talent. In the process, he discovered Atenery when she was eight years old. After a series of tests to find out her abilities and skills, he offered her training lessons – Atenery’s lifting career started. To this day, she is very grateful to him for that. “He instilled the values of the sport in me from a young age and taught me that with the right effort and a lot of hard work, you can achieve anything.”
From the beginning, weightlifting was something very special for her – only a few people on the island practiced this sport. Her name was on everyone’s lips. Initially, the training is merely a balance to the daily school routine. But it quickly became clear that she wanted more. Initially, the challenge was to learn a good technique and then Atenery wanted to achieve the requirements for national and later international competitions. What once began as a childish gimmick quickly evolved into her lifelong dream. Today, winning medals at European and World Championships and the Olympic Games are among their goals.
Her athletic career is initially very steep. In 2010, Atenery became 6th at the Youth Olympic Games and between the years 2013 and 2017 she collectsed quite a few medals at European Championships. One event in particular has remained in her memory. At the 2017 European Championships, she won three medals – silver in the snatch, bronze in the clean and jerk, and silver again in the overall ranking. “I remember all the hard work leading up to it. But still, I woke up every morning wanting to lift more and more weight.”
It all went off without complications or injuries and you could see that on stage. “I was compensated for all the work with these three wonderful medals, making history in my home country of Spain.” To date, Atenery is the only woman in Spain who has managed to get on the podium in the overall ranking at a European Championship.
But unfortunately, lows are also part of an athlete’s life, and so the years 2018/19 were marked by a number of injuries. Her will to qualify for the Olympics was irrepressible. But at the 2018 World Championships, Atenery suffered a knee injury in the middle of the competition, which she did not recover from as the next competitions were already on the horizon and she wanted to earn important points for the qualifiers.
At the World Cup the following year, shoulder pain was added. “I was really in a bad way at the time, physically, so I wasn’t even able to lift a 15 kg bar, and mentally, because I couldn’t break the injury cycle and I really wanted to fulfill my dream of the Olympics.”
Back home after the WC, she decided to take a break and have surgery. Corona played right into her hands. This way she was forced to use the time to let her body recover in order to be able to prepare for the next events with full commitment again. “Reading this, you might think – what a tragedy. But this time has matured me into a strong woman – mentally as well as physically.”
In addition to many hours of training, Atenery is also pursuing a “Marketing and Business Administration’s degree and hopes to work in that field after retiring from the sport. But before that, she says, “I want to travel some more places in this world and volunteer in needy countries.”