News Interview

Arley Mendez Interview

Born in Cuba, now nationalized Chilean, world champion in 85 kg 2017.

Pan American and South American champion.

Gold in Snatch at the 2018 World Cup.

 How and when did weightlifting appear in your life?

Weightlifting came into my life at 9 years old when I was practicing judo and baseball. Two years later I completely went into weightlifting as I had a lot of potential for that sport. 

Your first coach was Bulgarian Giorgi Panchev. Did you train according to the well-known Bulgarian system from the very beginning?

No, my first coach was Cuban, he was the one who took me to the Cuban national team facility that was the best of that time. There, I already had another coach for 4 more years until I decided to come to Chile. I have known the Bulgarian system since I started my training with my current trainer Giorgi Panchev in 2015.

What was special about sports life in Cuba?

Actually, there was not much special, as a lot of work was spent in Cuba because of the needs that existed but regardless of that I became stronger and learned a lot about weightlifting – the sport I love.

Do you remember the moment when you believed that you can lift heavy weights and win huge competitions? Tell about it.

Well, when I was young I wanted to lift a lot of kilos, but I could not, because I did not have much sports experience and still needed to work at the technique that was not very good. But I trained a lot and gradually lifted more and more. The technique was improving and let me obtain several sports achievements for Cuba being junior. 

Why did you change nationality?

I changed my nationality, because Cuba did not give what I needed. I wanted something better for me and my family.  

What does your training process look like now?

My training process is very mild as I am recovering from an injury. Now I am only focusing on my technique and exercising the muscles. After finishing my recovery, I’ll get to train hard for the Olympics.

Name 3 of your main rules in the training process.

The ones I need are:

  • Technique
  • Speed to execute the movements faster
  • Strength

There were injuries in your career. Why did they happen?

The most serious injuries of all is the one I am currently recovering from. It’s a fracture of the tibia by overload. That injury appeared by a nerve pinching by the L4 and L5 discs that removed strength from my left leg. I continued to train and the right leg does not support more until the bone broke.

Tell us your best results in SNATCH, C&J, pulls, back/front squats!

Snatch training is 180, competition is 175. C&J training is 220, competition is 212. Front squats are 270.

About what sports peaks do you dream of?

Well, I want so many things! I lack an Olympic champion, Pan American champion, having world and Olympic records… Just that! 

You and your wife are high-level professional athletes. Will your son also be an athlete?

    I’d like him to be an athlete, but I’ll let him choose what he likes best. I’ll support him anyway being a weightlifter or dancer.

Give your advice to weightlifters.

The advice I can give is never give up your maximum. Train every day and most importantly set goals so that training has benefits.

On what to focus on training?

In my case I focus on working on my weaknesses and at the same time on clean. If yesterday I did one snatch with 160 kg. Today I try to make two with that weight.

How to avoid injuries?

Well, to avoid injuries you have to work seriously, make a good recovery, rest well and warm up the body very well before starting each training session.

How psychologically to adjust to big kilograms?

Well, to adapt psychologically to big weights I work based on the weight that I want to get. For example, if you want to do a 210 kg Clean, you need to repeat in training 3/2 with 200 kg and then work on the tiredness 1 rep of 210 kg. If your body is able to move those kilos with tiredness in competition, there is no way that fences with insecurity to raise that weight. Everything is in the gym, there we model every day what we’re going to do in a competition.

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Tanya Shaiko

Author: Tanya Shaiko
News Editor, Olympic Lifting Enthusiast

Oly Lifting Experience: 6 years
Best ResultsSnatch – 61 kg,
C&J – 78 kg

I’m Tanya, and I just can’t do without fitness. About six years ago, I got into Olympic weightlifting and instantly fell in love with it. Weightlifting is like no other sport – it’s just you versus the bar. Driven by my unwavering passion for an active lifestyle, I’ve been eager to share my personal journey and sports enthusiasm with others. As a journalist and photographer, my interests come full circle, adding an extra dimension to the news column that I curate. This way, I keep my readers updated with the latest happenings in the sports world.

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