The Incredible Weightlifter Who Wouldn’t Give Up | Against All Odds

The Incredible Weightlifter Who Wouldn’t Give Up | Against All Odds


(BRIDGESTONE PRESENTS) Oscar didn’t dream about just
any Olympic medal, he dreamt of the gold medal. The ghost of Beijing
cannot be back again. This is where my sports
career ends. You are the best. Do it and you’re
guaranteed a medal. (AGAINST ALL ODDS,
OSCAR FIGUEROA) In the world of Olympic sports, it all starts with
a child’s dream. (COLOMBIA) In my house,
my parents were very hard on me and with all their children. So, they made us all
pretty strong and I’m a person who thinks
about being the first and being the best. When we lived here we worked on
the mine, mining gold. If you didn’t work on the mine you couldn’t survive
because there was no other way. I said to my mother, “I don’t want to continue
living like this. “This is not the life
I want for myself.” These are young people who come from marginalised
family neighbourhoods. They are families
that have a lot of problems, in that if you have breakfast
you don’t have lunch, if you have lunch
you don’t have dinner. I remember that when I went
to the Coliseum in La Isleta, I told them that I wanted
to train and they said, “Yes, come, come on, train.” He knew absolutely
nothing about weightlifting. He learned the technique
in one day. I did not know
that he was a prodigy. When we travelled,
if the front seat was empty, he sat in the front. He used to say,
“I just like being number one.” You should not feel ashamed
of where you come from. I think he got over this, because he risked falling
into crime. The social and family
environment was not very conducive
to his training. Then the coach said, “No, no, you have
to take the boy “because he is going
to go to waste here.” Someone told me, “Oscar is a
very strong kid from Cartago.” This is the first thing
I heard about him. In two weeks, I saw him
compete as an amateur in Cali. And of course, he was an
absolute talent. Then we realised that
he had the profile to become a very high level
athlete in the future. Within a very short time, I was already in
the major leagues. (OLYMPIC GAMES
ATHENS, GREECE, 2004) I was shocked when I saw him at
the Olympic Games in Athens. I thought, I just saw this
child starting and he is already
at an Olympic Games. And he was very close
to winning a medal. But he achieved something that
we didn’t think he could, but he did, and it was to come
to the realisation that he could be an Olympic
champion. Before the Beijing Olympics,
before I arrived there, I had mentally prepared
myself to win the gold. I was saying, “I’m going to win
the gold at this Olympics.” At that time,
I had a Bulgarian coach, and our relationship
was not good. There were lots
of things there. The training methods of
the coach were too aggressive. In addition to being a coach,
he was a military man. It was then like a
military regime, arrive early,
do things perfectly… That is, he either has it
or he doesn’t. A series of things that
are not easy to understand here, in Latin America. He never understood that Oscar
could not work with maximum loads. And he always used to
say to us, “The mediocre have no
right to live, they have to die “because they will not be good
for anything.” Two weeks before
the Olympic Games in Beijing, I began to feel a very,
very strong pain in my neck. Well, I gripped the bar
and it fell out of my hands and I felt, at that moment,
huge impotence, knowing how strong I was… Neither the doctor
or the most intelligent physio could tell what was
happening to him. As the time to compete
came closer, the pain emerged,
and more pain, and more. The coach didn’t want
to know anything. In his view,
I was no longer worthy. He simply stepped aside and abandoned me in the middle
of the competition. The only one who stayed
with him through the entire competition
was me. (OLYMPIC GAMES
BEIJING, CHINA, 2008) To win a medal in the
Olympics was a big challenge. And we felt we could do
that in Beijing. Oscar was our
fundamental piece. During the Beijing Olympics,
he was among the favourites. The possibility of a medal in
Beijing was something feasible. Come on, come on,
you can do it! His dream was clear,
he was going to be a medallist. When I saw the first attempt and the bar fell
from his hands, I thought, “Something is
happening to him.” I calmed down and said to
myself, “Well, let’s do it on
the next try,” and I adjusted the tape better. I attempted the second
lift and… Come on, Oscar, you can do it!
Come on, let’s go! Every time he did this, I knew he was insecure
and something was wrong. And I said… And on the second attempt, I thought that there
was something serious going on. And then the third
attempt comes… You’re fine, you can do it. He focuses all his efforts. I went out to attempt
the last lift, which I was hoping
to be able to lift. Come on! And it didn’t. What can you say at
that moment? Nothing. Some of the media
and people in Colombia didn’t believe that Oscar
Figueroa was injured. Instead, they thought that
he was a little rebellious, that he didn’t want to compete. The entire sporting community
was against me, because they believed the coach
more than they believed me. They said I did not want
to be an Olympic champion. The doctor said there was
nothing wrong with Oscar Figueroa, that there was no problem
with his wrist. And at that time,
huge doubt was sown, because one didn’t know
who was right, whether it was Oscar
or the doctor. In the middle of a
competition, I was approached
by a Cuban colleague and he said to me, “Oscar, what you have is
a C6-C7 cervical hernia.” The Cuban doctor
ordered an MRI. I went with Cristina, the physiotherapist,
to get the results. And I see her come close
to tears. And says to me, “Yes, Oscar,
it’s what they said. “It is very serious and you can
become a quadriplegic.” I went to my room. I remember crying
like I had never done before. And then I broke down
and thought… I’m going to retire,
I have nothing left to do. This is where my sports
career ends. When he returned from Beijing,
he stayed in Cali and disconnected
from the world. It was something that
would have affected anyone. It drives you into a depression and getting out of
it is very difficult. And I can tell you that
anyone other than Oscar would have given up. I start thinking about
how to get better and what type of surgery
would help me. We were already clear
about the diagnosis, we had to find the solution. The option was to operate
on the C6-C7 vertebrae, but then I would not be able to practise weightlifting
again. (LOS REMEDIOS CLINIC
SPINAL SURGERY) We went to Dr Villota. We found
him to be a great support. In Oscar’s case,
there is a specific implication that committed me
a little more. Which was his role
as a high performance athlete. And then I told him, “I can’t do it, because
I can not guarantee that “you will be able
to continue weightlifting.” It was a herniated disc, to be treated at the Center
for Minimally Invasive Surgery that Dr Jorge Ramirez
has set up in Bogota. Oscar came to me. I listened to him, I looked at
the images, I examined them. And I told him that he had a
herniated disc and that the solution
was surgical treatment. I put myself in the hands
of Dr Jorge Felipe Ramirez. Oscar asked me, “Doctor,
can I go on competing?” And I told him, “Oscar, “you will not only continue
to compete, “you will win a medal
at the next Olympic Games.” When I told him that,
he hugged me and said, “Can you operate
on me tomorrow?” It was surgery in a very
complicated area… ..where there are
a lot of nerves that could not be touched. Where it had to be approached
from the front to the back. The risk was great. In medicine, unfortunately,
one plus one is not two, because it is not a
mathematical science. We are now finishing
the last puncture. The surgery was a
complete success. Only three hours after
the operation… He returned to being a very
strong person and, above all, he was convinced that
he could get there again. I took radical decisions. Gancho Karouchkov was not good
for weightlifting in Colombia so I worked hard to get him
out of the national team. It was good that he had
a new trainer. So he started preparing
for the future. I definitely thought that I could get to London
and get my gold. (OLYMPIC GAMES
LONDON, UK, 2012) 29 years old. His 15-year-long
weight-lifting career. If he nails this, he’ll move
into the silver. All or nothing now. – Hold still, hold still!
– Yes, he does! When he arrived in Colombia, he said something very special, he told me,
“I wanted the gold medal.” You need to believe, to trust… ..to desire, to be disciplined. And the only way was
to keep working. He started on the journey
to Rio and people began to say that
Oscar Figueroa is already old. People were not confident Oscar would reach again
his top level. We already knew about his
cervical hernias. And then there was an episode
of extraordinary back pain. I had three episodes of
acute crisis. At night, pain woke me up. A herniated disc is very hard. It oppresses the nerve. So when you’re holding weight,
it crushes. I used to fall when walking. And I said, “This is not
possible. “The ghost of Beijing
can not have returned. “This can not happen again.” He told me, “My back is
killing me. “If I don’t get surgery
I won’t go to the Olympics.” I examined him, he showed me
the MRI and I said to him, “Oscar, how have you been
lifting weights? “You have two lumbar
herniated discs “and facet joint
osteoarthritis.” I told him that
I needed to have surgery again and whether he was going
to come to Rio with me, whether he wanted to be
a champion with me. I did some calculations,
and we had six months maximum. The surgery in January,
the Olympic Games in August… It’s very little time,
but we will do it. I operate on Oscar so that he
can be an Olympic champion, a gold medallist. Another silver is not
enough for Colombia any more. The gold one. It was seven months before
the Olympics, there was no time
to take it easy. So we had to speed up
the process. There was little time left,
it was time for faith. During those seven months, preparation was very
hard and painful. The pain caused by the healing
of the scar was very hard. And the doctor told me that
I was going to be in pain for the next six months. It was very tough for Oscar. He had many sleepless nights because the pain
wouldn’t allow him to sleep. The pain feels like
needles on your back. And you can’t move. He didn’t know if he was
going to get there or not. And we left for Rio. (OLYMPIC GAMES
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, 2016) Oscar did not dream of
any Olympic medal, he dreamt of the gold medal. The amount of people who
supported him, it was the day he had been
waiting for four years. Brazil was Oscar’s last chance, the last chance
to get the gold. This is for the gold, Eugenio. This is the result of heart, strength, mentality,
concentration. The time for the
competition has arrived, without having touched
the competition weights. Everyone realises that he has had two herniated
discs operated on and they assume that Oscar
Figueroa is not at his best. Let’s see how
Oscar Figueroa goes. Maximum concentration from
the Colombian weightlifter. Come on! Come on! The start of the competition
was very strong. Oscar’s main rivals
have always been the Chinese. Medal disputes have almost
always been against the Chinese. The Chinese Chen, who was world
number one, world champion… ..has to retire because
of an injury on his second snatch attempt. It may be that Oscar
fails on the second attempt. Here goes Figueroa. He holds the weights. Then you have to have the mental capacity to think, you have failed but you
do not let yourself break down. There is a lot of tension,
there are many Colombians here, a lot of yellow shirts, there
is a lot of patriotism here. Let’s see what happens, it’s
between three weightlifters – the Indonesian, the Kazakhstani
and Figueroa with 172. The Kazakhstani goes up. The Indonesian goes now. I don’t see him doing well,
not at all. But the man has courage. He got up when he was in
difficulty. As I’m about to lift 176
on my second attempt, Oswaldo told me, “If you do it, you’ve already
got the gold.” It is the culminating moment. Figueroa is coming,
ladies and gentlemen. Oscar Figueroa is aiming
for glory. Pinilla, the Colombian coach,
is oozing a sense of calm. I hug him and I told him, “Oscar, we are going for it,
we’re going to win, “we are going to leave it
all out there. “At the end, we are going
to celebrate.” At that moment, my hands
had already begun to feel numb. I began to have cold sweats. It was like letting go
all those years of suffering. In that moment,
my 33 years of life flashed through my mind. And an inner voice told me, “Oscar, no more pain.” My God, we are on your hands. Oscar Figueroa. A son of Colombia, look at how
his muscles are opening now. Well, he’ll lift it for sure. Very sure, Figueroa! He got it, Colombia got it!
Colombia won gold! Figueroa did it! So many years, so much effort and I could not assimilate
it was true. I cried of happiness because of the commitment I had made to him
and the country. I cried a lot that day. I cried and thought,
“My God, at last.” I still live the excitement. Dreams are part of your
goals in life and they are important
to keep yourself young. When you stop dreaming… either you are dead or you stop living. I was taught at home to
work hard to be number one. It doesn’t matter how many
difficult times I go through, I never give up. (SPECIAL THANKS TO:) (AND TO ALL THOSE YOUNG
WEIGHTLIFTERS, (WHETHER PROFESSIONAL OR NOT, (WHO HAVE FOUGHT HARD TO
ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS) (AGAINST ALL ODDS
PRESENTED BY BRIDGESTONE)

100 Replies to “The Incredible Weightlifter Who Wouldn’t Give Up | Against All Odds”

  1. Don't miss the other incredible stories of Athletes who defeated the Odds in the Full series: https://www.olympicchannel.com/en/playback/against-all-odds/

  2. Make a movie out of his life… im not even into weightlifting and i was crying at the end.. very powerfull stuff

  3. Grande Figueroa nos emocionaste a todos eres un ejemplo de vida para todos, gracias por ayudarnos de forma indirecta a perseguir nuestros sueños

  4. This is a great video but already after watching his first attempt you could tell it was an impingement of his brachial plexus in one way or another. Surely at the freaking olympics there are doctors around that would have stopped him, that's what I don't understand. And even the doctors that saw him before hand didn't think cervical extension + heavy load + sudden peripheral unilateral weakness = brachial plexus injury?? it's just ridiculous that it got to that point in the first place

  5. I cried my heart out when he went through so much and then won that gold. He inspires me not to give up my dream. Thank you, Oscar!!!

  6. I also have same dream …..olampic gold for my country …..this video was really very inspiring….hopefully that would be 2020❤️

  7. I've watched most of the Against All Odds videos, and this one touched me the most by far. He didn't just battle against an injury, he even had to face the people that were in disbelief about his injury. He moved on, gone to grab a silver in London which he wasn't satisfied and went to get a gold in Rio despite another injury and he hadn't been in best ages for weightlifting. I find that incredibly inspiring, I adored his emotional winning lift.

  8. this man didn't just win for himself, he won to represent his entire home country. he won to show that columbia could truly pull a victory if they really put the effort to it.

    truly an inspiration you are, oscar figueroa.

  9. Прекрасная, трогательная история.
    Есть информация, чем Оскар занимается сейчас ?

  10. Whenever I want to give up a goal, I come to watch this video and gain strength to continue. And I get goosebumps every time. Oscar is from another world. Respect!

  11. I am women from Pakistan remote village, got two bullets under my neck , still alive and practising for Tokyo Olympics, to let my Pakistan win his first gold in weightlifting, in practise sessions I am touching world record

  12. Esa noche en Río, pegados al televisor todos los colombianos vivimos esa emoción, todos estábamos pendientes de Óscar, saltamos, aplaudimos y lloramos por este gran campeón.

  13. Yo fui parte de la producción en este documental en Bogotá. Orgullo de mostrar la garra colombiana de los grandes como Oscar Figueroa.

  14. Ese momento fue impresionante y se estalló el júbilo cuando sono el himno en el podio y el lloro eso fue emocionante e histórico…!!!!

  15. I‘m sure Columbia doesn’t have the most accessible imaging services but still you’d think if a potential medal winning Olympic athlete had neck pain 2 weeks before the Olympics at least one person from his dumbass team would think “gee, maybe we should get an mri”. Like that’s the first thing you do with neck pain! Even for people who don’t have a high risk! What was going through their heads???

  16. Oscar Figueroa has greatly motivated me. I have been working hard since you won the championship. My life is even better. I’m just seeing your story on youtube now, I wish you all the best sir, respect from China.

  17. El dolor sólo es un momento pero la gloria es ETERNA grande Oscar tu eres la inspiración de miles de jóvenes q a pesar de adversidad luchamos por alcanzar nuestros sueños y mientras más difícil es el camino la dulce es la victoria

  18. Couldn't understand Spanish but understood that oscar struggled and won oscar of weightlifting .Oscar Figueroa

  19. Cada vez que ando en situaciones difíciles, veo este video del grande Óscar y recuerdo que no hay nada imposible en este mundo excepto la muerte. Un grande campeón. 👏👏👏👏

  20. Nos dió la gloria Oscar. Increíble y extraordinario. Gracias a dios él es colombiano y un ejemplo para nuestro país. y para el mundo.

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