THE Philippines’ weightlifting queen Hidilyn Diaz begins her quest for another stint in the Olympics as she goes for precious points in the International Weightlifting Federation World Championships on Friday (Saturday, Manila time) at Anaheim Convention Center in California.
Diaz, who settled for a silver medal in last year’s Rio Olympics in Brazil, said she is focused on meeting her personal best of 98 kgs in snatch and 118 kgs. in clean and jerk, but she’s not discounting a gold-medal finish.
“Nag-target din kami ni coach (Agustin) ng 95 and 120. Siyempre gold pa din po gusto ko, tingnan na lang natin sa laro,” said the proud Zamboanguena, who also took the bronze medal in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Turkmenistan last September.
Diaz is competing with compatriot Kristel Macrohon, who also bagged a bronze in Turkmenistan.
Diaz will compete in the 53-kg category on Nov. 30 (Dec. 1 in Manila), while Macrohon plunges into action on Dec. 2 (Dec. 3 Manila time) in the 69-kg division.
They are using the tournament as part of their preparation for the Asian Games slated next year in Indonesia and ultimately for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Diaz got the bronze in the 2015 World Championships in Houston, Texas.
“Mas mahigpit po ang laban ngayon, pero laban lang,” said the three-time Olympian, who expects to fight it with tough best from Chinese Taipei, Korea, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
Diaz is one of the athletes selected by the Philippine Sports Commission and its corporate partner, Siklab Foundation, to be given full support in their quest for the country’s first-ever gold medal in the Olympics.
Marc Velasco, director of the Philippine Sports Institute, was put in charge by PSC chairman Butch Ramirez to make ensure that the selected focused athletes for the Olympics are well taken care of.
“We are not putting any pressure on her. We want to make sure that we provide sufficient environment for her to perform better. We want her to be more comfortable than what she had experienced before,” Velasco told Manila Standard through FB video call.
National coach Tony Agustin said they are motivated now more than ever due to the full support given by the PSC, through the PSI and Siklab.
“Mas maganda ang preparations namin dahil lahat ng kailangan namin, including better nutrition, are provided by the team,” said Agustin. “It’s too early to expect Hidilyns’ peak. Mahaba haba pa ang byahe natin. We have set our target and we are focused on meeting that target,” said Agustin.
Although Hidilyn is three-kilograms overweight, it doesn’t really pose a major problem.
Velasco, who was a strength and conditioning coach in Hong Kong Sports Institute before coming back home to join the PSC, said he it is not unusual for weightlifters to be overweight because they increase loading during training.
“Hindi naman kagaya ‘yan ng boxing na tapering ‘pag malapit na ang competition. Sa weightlifting, increasing ang lifting load mo ‘pag malapit ang competition,” said Velasco. “I am not concerned so much of her weight, I will be concerned if she is not lifting the target weight coming in the competition.”
Team Philippines, which also includes sports psychologist, Dr. Karen Trinidad, did eight days of training in Los Angeles before moving to Anaheim for the final phase of their preparation.
“Everything looks good. Hidilyn and Kristel had a good progression in preparation for the worlds,” added Velasco.