Zamboanga City’s Hidilyn Diaz is hoping to win a gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the women’s -55kg. division weightlifting competition on November 30 to December 11.
The 28-year-old Diaz has yet to win a gold medal in the SEA Games, settling only for silver medals in the women’s -58kg. division at the 2013 Myanmar and 2011 Indonesia editions, and a bronze medal in the 2007 Thailand meet.
Diaz has the most to prove even though she was a silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics and a gold winner in the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games.
She recently nailed two bronze medals in the 2019 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand.
Diaz has been training for years under Chinese coach Kai Wen Gao.
Aside from Diaz, the 10-man strong Philippine weightlifting team consists of Mary Flor Diaz (45kg.), Elien Rose Perez (49kg.), Margaret Colonia (59kg.), Elreen Ann Ando (64kg.), Kristel Macrohon (71kg.), John Fabuar Ceniza (55kg.), Dave Llyod Pacaldo (61kg.), Nestor Colonia (67kg.), and Jeffrey Garcia (73kg.).
“For the SEA Games, we’re aiming for four to five medals. I am hoping that we will get at least one or two medals for men, and four medals for women,” Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella said.
Puentevella also bared that the SEA Games is part of the Association’s long-term plan to send more Filipino lifters to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
“My master plan from the beginning was, like what I did to Hidilyn. Let them join all these competitions, in between SEAG and Tokyo Olympics. After siguro ng Tokyo, mas madami na (Maybe after Tokyo, there would be more Filipino Olympic qualifiers),” he added.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez is also pinning the country’s hopes on the weightlifters, saying they are among the athletes who can be counted on to spring surprises in the biennial meet.
“The PSC has done its part in giving the athletes the opportunity to train and gave them exposure. The national sports associations have made their assessments on their chances and we are counting on them,” he added. (PNA)
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