Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella expressed confidence that the last Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Asia in Uzbekistan will push through this April.
“It’s a go, I’m confident on that because this is the final tournament, which is a prelude to the Tokyo Olympics because all the strong contenders are expected to join including the powerhouse China,” said Puentevella in a phone interview with Manila Bulletin.
“A lot of weightlifters are looking forward to the Asian qualifying tournament because they need this one to complete the required number of events to be able to advance in the Tokyo Olympics.”
The former president of the Asian Weightlifting Federation and director of the International Weightlifting Federation executive committee said six Filipino lifters are preparing for the said OQT.
This includes Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who is currently training in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She needs just one more of the required six OQTs to earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.
“From KL, Hidi will go straight to Uzbekistan. So she’s in KL training with her Chinese coach and her team,” Puentevella said, referring to Kaiwen Gao of China and strengthening/conditioning mentor Julius Naranjo.
Aside from Diaz, the other five Filipino weightlifters joining the OQT are Kristel Macrohon, Mary Grace Diaz, Elreen Ann Ando, John Ceniza and Olympic veteran Nestor Colonia.
The five, Puentevella said, are training in the province with different national team coaches.
“Mayroon sa Bohol, sa Cebu and sa Zamboanga City… may mga kasama naman silang coaches. So tuluy ang ensayo, dapat na paghandaan dahil I know tuloy ang laban sa Uzbekistan,” said Puentevella.
“From what I know magkakaroon ng bubble tournament doon, but with the development of the vaccines, we’ll wait for the development. Basta tayo, ang mga atleteta natin handa lang sila.”
The said OQT was originally set last April 2020, but was called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.