Diaz looks forward to next month’s OQT

Published March 26, 2021, 12:52 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Photo from Hidilyn Diaz’s Instagram account

The team of Olympian Hidilyn Diaz has set a swab testing for COVID-19 in preparation for her participation in the Asian Weightlifting Championships on April 16 to 21 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Diaz, silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics, is eyeing her fourth consecutive Olympic stint in this year’s Tokyo Olympics, originally set last year but was moved because of the pandemic.

The competition Diaz is joining next month is an Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT). Aside from finishing in the top eight in the world rankings – where she is at No. 5 – she also needs to join her sixth OQT to qualify in the Tokyo Olympics.

“Mag-test na kami sa Monday then bibili na kami ng plane tickets (We’ll have our test on Monday, and then we’ll buy plane tickets soon),” Diaz told Manila Bulletin in a message exchange Friday, March 26.

“April 19 ang laro ko pero ang start ng tournament is 16. Pero mag-punta kame doon ng maaga mga April 10 (I’ll be competing on April 19 but the tournament will start on 16. We’ll be there early and will arrive April 10).”

Diaz and her team, which include Chinese mentor Kaiwen Gao, strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, and therapist Belen Banas, is in Malaysia for over a year now.

They arrived in Kuala Lumpur in late February to prepare for the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Kazakhstan, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Like other countries, Malaysia also went on a lockdown that forced Diaz and her team to stay there.

Diaz continued to stay in Malaysia to train, and now that the OQT is pushing through, as well as the Tokyo Olympics after the torch relay started the other day in Japan, she said things are looking bright for the Summer Games to happen on July 23 to August 8.

“Magandang senyales talaga na nag-start na ang Olympic Torch Relay. Parang nagiging reality na ulit. (They started the Olympic Torch Relay and it’s a good sign. It’s becoming a reality now),” said Diaz.

“Aaminin ko medyo nawalan din ako ng direction last year kasi uncertain ako sa mga pangyayari. Pero ngayon medyo nagkakaroon na ng pag-asa para sa OQT at sa Tokyo Olympics. (I admit I lost the sense of direction last year because things are uncertain. But now there’s hope for the OQT and with the Tokyo Olympics).”

Diaz will be competing in the 55kg women’s category in the OQT.

She has 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 last time she competed was during the 2020 Roma World Cup in Italy where she captured three gold medals back in January. Last July, Diaz won a gold medal in an online Eleiko Email International Lifters tournament.