Indonesia's Ricko Saputra won the 61 kilograms event at the IWF Grand Prix in Havana ©ITG

Ricko Saputra from Indonesia won gold, while Hampton Morris from the United States and Arley Calderon from host nation Cuba moved up the Olympic ranking lists on day three of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Grand Prix here.

On a good day for the US, Jourdan Delacruz won despite declining four of her lifts in the women’s 55 kilograms, where Canada’s late starter Josee Gallant made the podium for a second time this year.

In the men’s 61kg Saputra failed with two of his clean and jerks - as did seven others - and could not improve on his best qualifying total of 298kg.

He remains behind his illustrious team-mate Eko Yuli Irawan, who is aiming for his fifth Olympic Games after winning medals at Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

Irawan did not lift today because he has moved up to 67kg here for only the second time in a career that began more than 17 years ago.

Morris gave out a big yell after his final attempts in snatch and clean and jerk, having made career-bests at this weight across the board on 124-166-290.

His coach and father Tripp also made plenty of noise from beside the platform.

"That was because we’re now in a really good spot to make it into the Olympic Games," said Morris, the only lifter to make two clean and jerks.

"We were hoping for a total of 290 and got it."

Saputra was 10kg clear of seventh-placed Morris in the snatch and finished five kilograms ahead of him on total, making 134-161-295.

That was three kilograms down on his Asian Championships effort and five kilograms short of Irawan’s best total to date.

Calderon had plenty of support and made 125-161-286, which will put him ninth in the simplified rankings, two places behind Morris.

Henadz Laptseu from Belarus, competing as an Individual Neutral Athlete (AIN), had the rarity of a successful challenge on the way to snatch silver, one place ahead of Muhamad Aznil from Malaysia.

They both lost ground in clean and jerk, finishing fifth and fourth respectively on 130-150-280 and 129-156-285.

A good performance from America's Hampton Morris in the 61kg event put him in contention for a place at next year's Olympics in Paris ©ITG
A good performance from America's Hampton Morris in the 61kg event put him in contention for a place at next year's Olympics in Paris ©ITG

In a bizarre women’s session there were three no-shows from the nine entries in the start book, from North Korea, El Salvador and Haiti, a withdrawal after weighing in by Atenery Hernandez from Spain, and 10 declined attempts by the remaining five athletes.

The plan for Delacruz, the only non-Asian ever to post a 200kg total at her usual weight of 49kg, was simply to make career-high openers and she executed it to perfection.

When Shoely Contreras from Peru failed with her final clean and jerk, Delacruz was the winner from only two attempts on 85-110-195.

The consistent Contreras made 87-104-191 for second place and Canada’s late starter Gallant was third on 86-103-189.

It was a second podium place in only four international competitions for Gallant after a silver behind Contreras at the Pan American Championships in Argentina this year.

There was disappointment for Giulia Imperio from Italy, who failed to make a total after moving up from 49kg and has now made only seven good lifts in three qualifying appearances.

Imperio made her first international appearance aged 15, whereas Gallant was twice that age when she made her debut less than a year ago at the 2022 Pan American Championships.

"Looking back, I would 100 per cent love to have started out at that age," said Gallant, who was 31 last week.

"I came to this sport via CrossFit, and I love it.

"I am a perfectionist and weightlifting is perfect for me because it always gives you the chance to perfect your movement a little more, you always want to work at bettering yourself either physically or mentally.

"This really is a beautiful sport."

It was a challenge today after Gallant failed with her first two clean and jerk attempts before making it at the last chance.

"It takes such a mental capacity to come back from that," she said. 

"It is hard, it is stressful."

Gallant works full time in communications for her hometown of Truro in Nova Scotia, and still puts in the eight training sessions assigned to her remotely every week by her coach Kevin Zimmerman, who lives 4,700 kilometres away in Edmonton.

When she won the national title at Kelowna, British Columbia last year, Gallant had to travel more than 5,300km, which is 2,000km further than the distance to Cuba.

"That was about seven hours of flying," she said.

"If I go to see Kevin in person to work on technique it’s a six-hour flight."

Canada's Josee Gallant, a late starter in weightlifting, made the podium for the second time in only her fourth international event ©ITG
Canada's Josee Gallant, a late starter in weightlifting, made the podium for the second time in only her fourth international event ©ITG

Gallant won her first national title in May 2017 and would have gone from there into international competition but for personal circumstances.

"My mother had cancer and she fell into a coma on the day I won in 2017," said Gallant.

"After she passed away, I felt I was doing it for her, it was an homage, and I sort of lost my own passion for it.

"It was a long journey. 

"It took me five years to process things and to get back to doing it for myself - that’s why I started so late.

"And now here we are, I am doing what my mother would have wanted me to do."

Gallant’s next stop is set to be the IWF World Championships in Saudi Arabia, after which she will take her time in losing weight to drop down to 49kg and try to qualify for Paris 2024.

Most of the people in Truro "have never heard of weightlifting" said Gallant, who is happy to explain its delights to them.

But she does have an international team-mate nearby in the super-heavyweight Quinn Everett, who is due to in Cuba next weekend.

"He only lives about an hour’s drive away so every now and then we meet up to train together in his garage," said Gallant.