By Waylon Galvez
The situation concerning the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19 forced the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to reset indefinitely next month’s Asian Championship – an event that serves as qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics.
In its website, the IWF announced the postponement, which Uzbekistan was supposed to stage on April 16 to 25. PH team coach Toni Agustin said he also learned the Uzbekistan government declined to host due to the health scare.
Kazakhstan was the original venue for the OQT, but due to the same health risk, organizers begged off.
“Sinabihan kami na dahil nga daw sa COVID-19,” said Agustin Sunday. “Nakapagtanong na kami noon pang isang lingo, pero yun na nga nakita namin sa IWF website na postpone ang event.”
Agustin said they would continue to communicate with the international federation as to where and when the event will be held.
“Sa tingin naman namin pinag-aaralan ng IWF ang mga pwedeng gawin para matuloy ang tournament,” he said.
“Hindi naman kasi pwedeng sabihin na totally cancelled na ang event kasi may mga umaasa pa na makapasok sa Tokyo Olympics – wala din naman din kasing sinasabi na wala ng Olympics.”
Four local weightlifters are vying for an Olympic berth.
Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz is one of them and she is currently No. 5 in the 55kg women’s category in world ranking with 3,717.0982 points behind Chinese weightlifters in Jiang Huihua (4,667.8878), Liao Qiuyun (4,288.9622), Zhang Wangqiong (4,212.6639) and Li Yajun (4,099.0223).
The other three are lifters are Nestor Colonia in the67kg men’s, Elreen Ann Ando and Kristel Macrohon in the women’s 64kg and 71kg, respectively.
Diaz is currently in Malaysia for a two-month training camp, while Colonia, Macrohon and Ando are training at the weightlifting facility of the Philippine Sports Commission in Manila.
“Basta ang mga athletes tuloy lang ang ensayo, ang preparasyon para sa qualifier. Kasi ready dapat sila, pag sinabing etong buwan at kung san ang event, handa sila sa laban,” said Agustin.