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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Taipei camp planned for Olympic-bound PH lifters

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THE Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) has given up on the plan to send its Olympic qualifiers to China for the last phase of training before they head to Paris.

Instead, SWP president Monico Puentevella is eyeing Taipei as the final stop of training for Vanessa Sarno, Elreen Ando and John Ceniza, who are all assured of Paris berths. A fourth weightlifter. Rosegie Ramos, is still trying to qualify.

“We intended to train them in China. Sinubukan ko for more than a year and I negotiated with the Chinese Embassy but they have been very lukewarm,” said Puentevella in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

“So now kahit one month lang sana mag-training sila sa Taipei. Sana tanggapin sila sa Taipei,” added Puentevella during the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Smart/PLDT, MILO, and the 24/7 sports app in the country, ArenaPlus.

The Philippines won its first Olympic gold in Tokyo in 2021 courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who spent time in China to train under a Chinese coach leading to the Tokyo Games.

Puentevella said Diaz winning the 55kg gold in Tokyo may have had an effect in the former’s recent request for the Filipino weightlifters to train in China. Curiously, Diaz’ former coach, Chinese Gao Kaiwen, is now based in Taipei.

“I’m not surprised,” said Puentevella, who was joined in the forum by Sarno, 20, Ando, 25, and Ceniza, 26.

Sarno will vie in the women’s 71kg, Ando in the women’s 59kg, and Ceniza in the men’s 61kg. Among the three, only Ando is a two-time Olympian after competing in Tokyo.

“Masaya ako dahil lahat ng sacrifices namin nagbunga po lahat,” said Sarno, who has set high goals for her debut stint in the Olympics.

“Siyempre po gold medal,” she said. “Gusto ko po baguhin ‘yun mentality na ang first time mo sa Olympics is for exposure lang.”

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