By Brian Oliver

Mihaela Cambei returned to the platform an hour after winning the first medal event of the European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, to receive the award as EWF top female lifter of 2023. Lasha Talakhadze was the men’s winner.

“Thankyou!” Cambei said. “Come on people, let’s go to Paris!”

The Romanian set a senior European record on her way to victory at 49kg, and is the continent’s highest-placed athlete in the rankings for Paris 2024. Cambei is fifth on 199kg, only 1kg behind three athletes on 200kg, and the Chinese leader Jiang Huihua on 216kg.

That carried on the good work of last year when Cambei also set continental records as she won her first senior European title as well as Under-23 gold.

The record-breaking Georgian Lasha Talakhadze won his seventh European senior title last year, when he was also world champion for the seventh time. He lifts in the super-heavyweights in Sofia on February 20.

Second and third places in the EWF awards went to four more 2023 European champions. In the women Kamila Konotop from Ukraine was second and Britain’s Emily Campbell third, while in the men Karlos Nasar from Bulgaria was second and Ritvars Suharevs from Latvia third.

Other nominations for the women’s award were Elena Erighina from Moldova, Marta Garcia from Spain, Solfrid Koanda from Norway, Giulia Miserendino from Italy, Nina Sterckx from Belgium, Anastasiia Hotfrid from Georgia and Marie Fegue from France.

The other seven men’s nominations were David Sanchez from Spain, Sergio Massidda from Italy, Varazdat Lalayan from Armenia, Marin Robu from Moldova, Nico Mueller from Germany, Romain Imadouchene from France and Dadash Dadashbayli from Azerbaijan.


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