U.S. Air Force cadet Leowell Cristobal finished second in his division in the recent USA Weightlifting North American Open Series 1.
The 22-year-old Marianas High School alumnus finished runner-up in the 67B weight class with a 90-kg lift in the snatch and a 115-kg lift in the clean and jerk for a total of 205 kg.
Those totals were also good enough for sixth place overall in the 2021 University National Championships. Due to COVID-19 concerns, Cristobal competed virtually in the Cadet Gymnasium of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“The competition combined both the American Open Series and University Nationals. I represented the Air Force Academy and got second under the former and overall I was tied for sixth place in the 67 weight class under University Nationals,” he said in a social media message to the Saipan Tribune.
Not bad for his first Nationals, as growing up the son of Leonardo Sr. and Ana Marie of Gualo Rai played basketball and was even part of the CNMI Men’s National Basketball Team in the 2014 Micronesian Games at Pohnpei.
“Overall, I did pretty well considering I have gone up from 180 kg total from the Colorado State Championships last November to 205 kg total for this competition. That’s a 25-kg improvement within the past five months! I hope to continue to get better and hopefully represent the CNMI once more during the Pacific Mini Games/Micronesian Games next year,” he said.
Before representing the U.S. Air Force in the Nationals, Cristobal competed in the Colorado State Championships last November and one of the Oceania Weightlifting Email tournaments last December.
On how he got his start in the sport, Cristobal said his journey to weightlifting started with basketball and track and field and learning the clean and jerk as part of cross training with national basketball coach Eli Rangamar. “Over time, the sport of weightlifting grew on me and I hope to continue to get better in the future…I started competitive weightlifting during my first year in the U.S. Air Force Academy.”
Cristobal has a simple advice for those who want to pursue the sport of weightlifting. “I suggest reaching out to CNMI Weightlifting or weightlifters on island and see if they are willing to mentor and guide you through the sport. It’s important to have that support group and have people push you to become better. Lastly, the biggest thing for me is having fun and to find something you love about the sport. That way, you can remain consistent and motivate yourself to continue to get better,” he said.