Paris is a good two years and 10 months away, but convincing Hidilyn Diaz to go for an Olympic repeat has started the moment she put an end to all non-sports endeavors to focus on her next goal—gold in the International Weightlifting Federation World Championships in Tashkent in December.
To jumpstart efforts to convince Diaz, Philippine Olympic Committee President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino even wore a red Paris hoodie when he and wife Tagaytay City Mayor Dr. Agnes Tolentino treated Diaz and now head coach Julius Naranjo to a sumptuous dinner cum despedida at the Grandmaster Hotel in Tagaytay City.
“I wanted to tease her [Diaz],” Tolentino said. ““I am encouraging her to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympics, but she hasn’t decided yet.”
Before dinner, the Tolentinos toured Diaz and Naranjo at the soon-to-be-completed training center in Tagaytay City, the same city where the POC head gifted Diaz and boxing silver medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio and bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial house and lot units each.
“I believe she will still be formidable at that time ,” Tolentino said. “And there will be other weightlifters like Rose Jean Ramos, who could qualify for the Olympics.”
Diaz and Naranjo are flying on Saturday to Malacca to return to the very same private and isolated home and facility where she polished her weightlifting skills that netter the country its first Olympic gold medal.
“There are no distractions there, it’s a perfect environment,” Diaz said.
Diaz and Naranjo were treated to various fish, meat and noodles menu and the world-famous bulalo during the dinner where appreciations, gratitude and pleasantries were exchanged, according to Tolentino.
“It’s all about expressing her gratitude to everyone before she goes to Malaysia to resume her training for the world championships,” Tolentino, also the PhilCycling president, said. “She thanked everyone and we talked about many things.”
The worlds—the only missing jewel in the Tokyo Olympics champ’s cache—at the Uzbekistan capital are set December 7 to 17. Tolentino said the 30-year-old Diaz will return home after the tournament to spend the holidays with her family.
Diaz has earlier expressed her desire to defend her gold medals at the 31th Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi in May and the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou in September next year.
POC deputy secretary general for administration Carl Sambrano, also the skateboarding president, joined the group in Tagaytay City.
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