Olympic Weightlifter Vanessa Sarno Lifts Her Head High

Weightlifter Vanessa Sarno Lifts Her Head High: “All of This Is For The Country”

skirt. Photographed by Mark Nicdao for the July 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines.

In critical moments, you have to put all your faith in yourself to come out on top. Vanessa Sarno, who hails from Tagbilaran City, Bohol, knows this well.

There is so much riding on every single kilo added to her lifts: her dreams, the pride of the country, and the hopes of her family, especially. Using these as motivation, she has defied expectations throughout her career as a weightlifter. 

She remembers getting a taste of gold at the Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships in 2018. There, she received much-needed cash incentives for winning, a huge help to her family at the time. Being the second eldest child, she made the decision to focus on weightlifting so she could continue supporting her mother and her siblings. “I kind of became the breadwinner of my family,” she says in Filipino.

Toughing out injuries and pressure from all sides, she has remained steadfast as a formidable competitor representing the country in the upcoming Paris Olympics. “Just one second of doubt in yourself can affect your performance in the whole competition,” she adds. 

Photographed by Mark Nicdao for the July 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines.

During the SEA Games last year, the 19-year old defended her title and recorded a total lift of 225kg—enough to win her another gold medal in her career. In her most recent appearance at the International Weightlifting Federation World Cup last April, she even broke her own national record to secure her Olympic ticket.

Sarno had to overcome a back injury to earn that spot. Speaking about the experience, she says she was stubborn and committed to her attempt despite people telling her that she should rest. “I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t like the sport so much,” she firmly says. “When you love what you do, even if it’s hard… you’ll still choose to see things through.”

Forged by her experiences as an athlete, she’s betting it all on herself to bring home pride to the Philippines: “All of this is for the country, too. When you’re at a competition and you win, you get to hear the Lupang Hinirang. And to hear the national anthem of the Philippines in these competitions… it feels so great to represent your country.”

This month, Vogue Philippines pays tribute to stories of grit, determination, and the pursuit of excellence. Below, meet more of the athletes who continue to shatter the glass ceiling of sports.


Vogue Philippines: July 2024 Issue

By BIANCA CUSTODIO, NANA CARAGAY, PATRICIA VILLORIA Photographs by MARK NICDAO Beauty Editor JOYCE OREÑA Fashion Director PAM QUIÑONES. Stylists: David Milan, Steven Coralde of Qurator Studio. Makeup: Angeline dela Cruz, Bea Mocorro, Janica Cleto, and Japeth Purog of Estée Lauder Philippines, Nadynne Esguerra. Hair: JA Feliciano and Kyle Velasco, Jessica Riva and Noel Muncada of Toni&Guy Philippines, Mong Amado. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Producer: Anz Hizon. Bookings Associate: Bianca Zaragoza. Beauty Writer: Bianca Custodio. Nails: Extraordinail. Photographer’s Assistants: Arsan Sulser Hofileña, Crisaldo Soco, John Phillip Nicdao, Villie James Bautista. Stylist’s Assistants: Geno Karlo, Kyla Uy, Ticia Almazan. Shot on location at Balay Kobo and Vogue Studios.
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