Lidia Valentin is eyeing a fifth Olympic Games appearance ©Brian Oliver

Lidia Valentin, the London 2012 Olympic gold medallist from Spain, has joined the qualifying pathway for Paris 2024 at the age of 38 despite an injury that could thwart her hopes.

Whether she will be fit enough to make a realistic attempt for a fifth appearance at the Olympic Games remains to be seen, Valentin said after weighing in and withdrawing from the women's 76 kilograms category at the IWF Grand Prix in Havana.

Her "participation" here is enough for Valentin - who also won silver at Beijing 2008 and bronze at Rio 2016 - to be eligible but she has not competed since finishing 10th at the delayed Tokyo Games in 2021.

Valentin weighed in here at 72.8kg, which suggests she could go down to 71kg or up to 81kg, but she was not making any predictions.

Asked what was her percentage chance of making it through qualifying, Valentin said: "I can’t say, I don’t know.

"I am still recovering from a hip injury I had before the last Olympic Games. 

"I went to Tokyo with the injury.

"I don’t know how it will go for me, but I came here because I didn’t want to close the doors yet.

"Training is now completely different for me because when I make the normal weightlifting movements I feel pain.

"I will only compete again if I am 100 per cent."

When her career does finally end, Valentin said, she will try to spread the word of "the beautiful story of weightlifting".

Kate Vibert is ranked in the top 10 for Paris 2024 after winning in Havana ©Brian Oliver
Kate Vibert is ranked in the top 10 for Paris 2024 after winning in Havana ©Brian Oliver

She does not want to be a coach of professional athletes who already know the sport, but would like to do what she can to bring in new people to weightlifting.

"I love the sport," she said.

The American Olympic medallist Kate Vibert (formerly Nye) won the competition and is now ranked in the top 10 in two weight categories for Paris.

Vibert, ranked fourth at 71kg, made her final clean and jerk after two failures to finish 110-137-247, equalling the best 81kg effort by her team-mate Mattie Rogers, who lifts here at that weight on Friday.

Bella Paredes from Ecuador was second on 111-134-245 and the Mexican Diana Garcia was third on 97-131-228.

Pavel Khadasevich became the third Individual Neutral Athlete to claim gold here when he won the men's 96kg by a wide margin.

Khadasevich missed his final attempt in making 170-203-373, which will put him in the top 25 of the 102kg rankings for Paris.

Boady Santavy, fourth in Tokyo, withdrew after weighing in. 

His Canada team-mate Xavier Lusignan started well in the snatch but dropped away to finish fifth.

Second-placed Jose Lopez from Mexico was 32kg behind Khadasevich, a silver medallist for Belarus at the 2018 IWF World Championships, and Brandon Vautard from France was third on 140-196-336.

Three Olympic medallists lined up in the women's 81kg B Group but only one of them lifted when Polina Guryeva from Turkmenistan and Leidy Solis from Colombia withdrew after weighing in.

Guryeva, who took a lengthy time-out to have a child, has not lifted since Tokyo but she is now eligible to qualify for Paris.

Aremi Fuentes from Mexico was back on the platform for the first time since she won a bronze medal at 76kg in Tokyo. 

On the way back from a serious injury, she took it easy and made six from six for 91-112-203, which was 42kg down on her Olympic total.

Aremi Fuentes from Mexico made six from six for 91-112-203, which was 42kg down on her Olympic total ©Brian Oliver
Aremi Fuentes from Mexico made six from six for 91-112-203, which was 42kg down on her Olympic total ©Brian Oliver

"It was fine, I am taking it step by step," said Fuentes, 30.

"Today is exactly six months since I had knee surgery, and I’m feeling good. 

"I’m doing what the doctors tell me so I don’t ruin my recovery."

Another B Group lifter, Katrina Feklistova from Great Britain, is considering her future after getting a chance to take weightlifting more seriously.

Feklistova, who has a degree in economics and works in consulting for banks at the financial technology company Accenture, is one of four British weightlifters who will receive UK Sport funding that could stretch through to Los Angeles 2028.

The others are Fraer Morrow, Jess Gordon Brown and Chris Murray.

"I only started weightlifting two years ago, as a hobby," said Feklistova, 26, after making a career-best total of 224kg.

"My employer has an elite athletes programme that offers extra days off for competitions and training, in exchange for the publicity they get. They also offer sabbaticals of up to a year.”

The funding could allow Feklistova - who was a gymnast and also represented Britain at junior level in fencing - to go part-time in her job and focus more on her sport.

"I’m thinking I might put more time into weightlifting for a while, maybe go part-time, and see how far I can get up the rankings," she said.

Feklistova lives in East London, near the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, and trains in South London at a gym run by her coach Mehmed Fikretov, a multiple champion when he lifted for Bulgaria.