Diaz hopes to do well in Asian Championship

Published April 12, 2021, 3:27 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, left, with strength and condition coach Julius Naranjo and Chinese mentor Kaiwen Gao at the Tashkent International Airport in Uzbekistan. Diaz is set to compete in the Asian Weightlifting Championship on April 16 to 21, a qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo from Hidilyn Diaz)

Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz said she is aiming for the best possible finish in the Asian Weightlifting Championship set April 16 to 21 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The 30-year-old Diaz can actually just show up in this event that also serves as an Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the region to complete the requirement of joining six OQTs to get the Tokyo Olympics spot.

However, she said that her mindset is to perform at a high level considering that this is also a tune-up event for the Tokyo Olympics. Diaz said this is an opportunity to measure up since this is her first tournament in more than a year.

“I go here to do my best and to participate. It’s my tune-up game,” said Diaz in a message exchange with Manila Bulletin.

She last competed in January 2020 when she won three gold medals in the World Cup in Rome.

“Hindi puwede na eto lang gagawin ko (I cannot just participate), I need to push myself to do my best. Kahit anong ranking ko pa sa Asian Championship basta gawin ko best ko (Whatever my ranking will be in the Asian Championship as long as I do my best).”

“Kasi need ko i-train sarili ko to do my best for the Olympics (I need to train myself to do my best for the Olympics).”

Diaz and her “HD Team” with Chinese coach Kaiwen Gao and strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo left Malaysia for Uzbekistan last Friday, April 9, ahead of the regional tournament, which was originally set last April 2020 in Kazakhstan but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diaz has been training for the said meet in Malaysia since early February 2020.

Now that the event is happening, Diaz is very much excited as she waited for more than a year since this OQT will formalize her entry to a fourth straight Olympics for a chance to win the gold medal.

“Parang hindi totoo na matutuloy ang event, tapos ngayon nagkakatotoo na (I thought this event is not going to happen, but it’s finally happening). I’m really excited,” said Diaz, adding that there is still fear with the threat of the virus but they are cautious with the protocols.

“Condition wise, sobrang okay. I-surrender ko na lang kay God ang result basta gagawin ko best ko sa laro and even sa Olympics (Condition wise I’m okay. I’ll just surrender everything to God, the results here and in the Olympics).”

Diaz, who will see action on Sunday, April 18, and has 3,717.0982 points in the 55kgs women’s category behind three Chinese lifters in Jiang Huihua (4,667.8878), Liao Qiuyun (4,288.9622), Zhang Wangqiong (4,212.6639) and Li Yajun (4,099.0223) in the world ranking.

However, as per Tokyo Olympics rule, only one weightlifter is allowed per country to compete in the Summer Games on July 23 to August 8, 2021