Emily Ibanez Guerrero, right, became weightlifting's youngest ever medallist ©ITG

Emily Ibanez Guerrero lived up to her billing as one of the most exciting young talents in the world when she won three medals at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Youth Championships here.

It meant that for the second time in 48 hours in Durres, a 12-year-old Canadian became the youngest ever medallist in international weightlifting.

Nobody under 13 had won a medal before these Championships, according to the OlyFanatics database that has results of 34,000 lifters dating back to 1898.

On Saturday (March 25) Ivy Buzinhani Brustello won the women's 40 kilograms title aged 12 years, 264 days.

Today, her close friend Ibanez Guerrero, whose 12th birthday was on December 27, made it to the podium in the women's 55kg aged 12 years, 90 days.

Ibanez Guerrero's 79-98-177 effort, a personal best total, placed her second in the snatch, third in clean and jerk and third on total behind Gelen Torres Gomez of Colombia and Rosalinda Faustino from the Philippines.

She was in tears after failing with her final attempt, having made five good lifts, but soon cheered up as she realised what she had achieved.

"Winning a medal like this has been a dream for me since I was very young," said Ibanez Guerrero, who started learning technique aged six and has "always enjoyed the sport and always enjoyed training".

Emily Ibanez Guerrero with fellow 12-year-old star Ivy Buzinhani Brustello ©ITG
Emily Ibanez Guerrero with fellow 12-year-old star Ivy Buzinhani Brustello ©ITG

Both 12-year-olds train at the Beyond Lifting club in Montreal, run by Ibanez Guerrero's parents Abigail Guerrero and Ciro Ibanez.

Guerrero lifted for Spain and has twice won masters world titles, while Ibanez was an international lifter for Cuba and a coach in France and Spain before he moved to Canada.

Guerrero coaches both girls and Ibanez coaches his son Brayan, who became Canada's first youth world medallist last year and who lifts here in the 81kg category.

He is hoping to post a big enough total to earn selection for Canada's senior team at the IWF Grand Prix in Cuba in June - an Olympic qualifier.

Brayan is a veteran at 16 and will be cheered on by both girls.

"Emily's biggest inspiration has always been her brother," said Guerrero.

Emily said: "The two most important things in my life are weightlifting and my family."

She said her favourite weightlifter was Naim Suleymanoglu.

She could not call her dad from the Ramazan Njala Sport Complex in Durres because there was no wifi signal after the competition finished.

Torres Gomez, the first winner from the Americas here, made six from six for 82-100-182 and Faustino made 78-100-178.

Pan Hsing Chen from Chinese Taipei was a clear winner in the women's 49kg, making all six of her lifts for a sweep of golds on 73-90-163.

Pan, who competed online in 2020 but never in person at an international event, trains at the same centre as her hero Kuo Hsing-chun, the 59kg Olympic champion and multiple world record holder.

The Ramazan Njala Sport Complex was thrown into darkness for a few minutes when Pan and the Chinese Taipei team were taking celebratory photos on the platform, but the power cut did not deter them and they took a few by the light of their mobile phones.

Second place went to the 15-year-old African youth champion Habiba Abdelfattah from Egypt on 69-83-152, and third was Maria Stratoudaki from Greece on 66-86-152.

A power cut at the venue didn't deter Chinese Taipei celebrations ©ITG
A power cut at the venue didn't deter Chinese Taipei celebrations ©ITG

Nicoleta Cojocaru, third in the snatch behind Pan and Abdelfattah, was Moldova's first world youth medallist in 11 years, and Alexia Sipos from Romania took bronze in the clean and jerk.

In the men's 67kg Serozhya Barseghyan of Armenia missed his final two lifts but had already built a winning lead on total.

His 128-147-275 left him 5kg clear of Mohamed Al Marzouq from Saudi Arabia, who made 121-149-270, and Bharali Bedabrate from India on 119-148-267.

Barseghyan, whose father is a youth coach, started the sport aged eight and was making his international debut.

Both he and the clean and jerk silver medallist Ditto Ika, from Nauru, cited lifters from another era as role models who have inspired them in the sport.

For Barseghyan it was the 1980 Olympic champion Yurik Vardanyan, one of the sport's all-time greats, and for Ika it was his national federation President Marcus Stephen, who became President of Nauru after his illustrious lifting career was over. 

This was Nauru's first medal at a World Championships for many years, and national team coach Saul Detenamo said the sport was "coming up pretty strong again".

Nauru has six athletes entered in Durres, four men and two women.

The United States had a good start at the Pan American Championships in Bariloche, Argentina - an Olympic qualifying event.

Hampton Morris made a career-best 123-158-281 to win the men's 61kg and move into eighth place in the early rankings list for Paris 2024.

Jourdan Delacruz led a US 1-2 in the women's 49kg with her best performance in two years, making 86-112-198, the third best total in the qualifying list.

Hayley Reichardt is a place behind in fourth after her career-best 86-111-197, which earned second place in Bariloche.