Cast your mind back 12 years — or three olympic games, in athlete circles — where Figueroa managed a fifth place in the 56kg class at his first olympic game appearance.
Four years later, at the Beijing olympics, the Columbian failed to even register a lift. With Figueroa later discovering he had suffered a cervical spine hernia, his right hand had a complete loss of feeling, resulting in his grip strength being non-existent during all of his 3 snatch attempts and bombed out. Figueroa went through surgery with a high chance of major disabilities — quadriplegia.
London 2012 was his chance for redemption. 8 months prior to the competition Figueroa had suffered not one but two lumbar spine disc herniations! He had another surgery for his lumbar herniations. Although the struggles with injuries Figueroa performed admirably, chalking up a silver medal with a whopping total of 317kg, behind Kim Un-Guk with an astonishing 327kg total.
Enter Rio 2016, in what is certainly deemed to be Figueroa's last chance at the gold… And boy, did he know it. In Brazil, the Colombian summoned up everything he could to make a total of 318kg and took home the gold medal.
After his last attempt, Figueroa slumped to the ground and burst into tears. Following his wonderful display of emotion, Figueroa took off his shoes on the platform and did a final celebration before his retirement.
However, Figueroa did compete in the world championships in Ashgabat in 2018, placing 5th with a total of 318kg, 14kg behind Chen Lijun who won gold.
Even better, Figueroa keeps repeating the words “TOKYO 2020” on his social media, indicating his goal of yet another gold at the olympics. Tokyo 2020 will be Figueroa’s 5th appearance on the olympic stage.