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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Watch out for Hidilyn Diaz in Paris: I’m getting stronger

HANGZHOU—Let this be a warning to the big guns of her weight class—Hidilyn Diaz is getting stronger.

The Tokyo Olympics’ gold medalist placed fourth in the 59-kg division finals of the 19th Asian Games’ weightlifting competitions at XSC Gymnasium on Monday, but Diaz ain’t worried.

“At the end of the day, ang Paris Olympics ang pinaka-importante. Patuloy ang ensayo para mag-qualify at para manalo sa Paris,” emphasized Diaz after her 223-kg total lift from the snatch and the clean and jerk event, ruled by a 20-year-old Kim Ilgyong from North Korea with a new Asian Games, Asian and World record total of 246.

Hometown favorite Luo Shifang placed runner-up with a 240, while Chinese Taipei’s Kuo Hsing Chun ranked third with 227 kgs.

Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz easily makes her first lift in the snatch competitions of the 19th Asian Games at the XSC Gymnasium in Hangzhou.

But these lifters don’t scare Diaz, who is campaigning in the 59-kg division, four kilograms heavier than her gold medal-winning category in the Tokyo Olympics two years ago.

“Nakita niyo naman, nag-try ako ng 100 at 130, and it was my first time to try (those weights). Ganoon na pala ako kalakas, so malapit na ako sa top 5, top 6. Mga ilang kilos na lang,” said Diaz, who didn’t have to take part in the Asian Games because it’s not a qualifying tournament for the Paris Olympics.

But she did, nonetheless.

“Gusto ko pa talaga sumali sa Asian Games kahit alam kong medyo (mahirap). Pero sa akin, kasi it’s good na may atletang Pilipino na naglalaro, at nagpapakitang, ‘uy malakas pa din kami, nandito pa din kami at hindi kami nagpapatalo kahit three weeks to prepare lang ito’. Kasi may IWF championship pa kami last three weeks ago,” said the Diaz, the oldest participant in these games at 31.

Another good thing derived by Diaz from competing in the Asiad is she now knows, where her current lifts stand and who to watch out for in Paris.

“China at Chinese Taipei ang malakas,” said Diaz, pointing out the runner-up and third placer here.

The Asiad champion Kim is not a concern. Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella doubts her participation in the Olympics as North Korea doesn’t comply with doping rules and regulations of the International Weightlifting Federation.

Diaz needs to join two World Cup competitions in the next few months, the first in Qatar in December, and then in Thailand in February, to secure a place in the Paris Games, slated from July to August, 2024.

“Mayroon pang Asian Championship, pero depende pa kung gusto naming puntahan,” added Diaz, who plans to train soon for the Qatar World Cup.

Before leaving the Mixed Zone, Diaz sent this parting shot to her rivals: Hintayin niyo ako sa Paris.

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