Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) chief Monico Puentevella said that he could only remind the weightlifting national team to practice the minimum health protocols and always be cautious to avoid being infected with COVID-19.
In the absence of a vaccine, Puentevella said that he already gave specific instructions to the 10-man contingent that will leave Wednesday night, April 14, for Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“We don’t have the vaccines yet, so the only thing our athletes and coaches can do for now is to be careful, practice the necessary health protocols,” said Puentevella when contacted by Manila Bulletin.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chief of staff Marc Velasco said that they already informed the Department of Health about the vaccine for athletes, especially those going abroad for competitions.
However, Velasco said the sports agency is still waiting for the DOH response on that request.
“We’ll just follow the government, we understand that there is a procedure that we’re all following when it comes to the vaccination rollout for all the local governments (LGU),”said Velasco.
Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who will compete in the 55kg women’s category, arrived in Uzbekistan from Malaysia last Monday with her Chinese mentor Kaiwen Gao and strength/condition coach Julius Naranjo.
The eight weightlifters joining her in the Asian Championship in Tashkent, which also serves as the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for the region, are Mary Flor Diaz, Ellen Rose Perez, Margaret Colonia, Elreen Ann Ando, Vanessa Sarno, Kristel Macrohon, John Fabuar Ceniza and John Dexter Tabique.
Joining the delegation are coaches Nicolas Jaluag and Gary Hortelano.
Mary Flor Diaz will see action in the 45kg, Perez in 49kg, Colonia in 59kg, Ando in 64kg, Sarno in 71kg and Macrohon in 76kg women’s division, while Ceniza will join the 61kg and Tabique in the 96kg men’s category.
Of the nine Filipino weightlifters, the two Diaz – Hidilyn and Mary Flor who are cousins – Ando, Macrohon and Cenizo will try to earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympics via the Asian Championship.
“That’s the goal for the five weightlifters. Of course Hidilyn needs to just join to complete the required six OQTs and earn her place in the Tokyo Olympics, while the four have a strong chance,” said Puentevella.
“As for the other members, they’re joining the Asian Championship with hopes of winning medals too. They’re next in line when it comes to Philippine weightlifting.”