Filipino veteran weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz tries to formalize her entry to this year’s Tokyo Olympics as she competes in the Asian Weightlifting Championship Sunday, April 18, in Tashkent Uzbekistan.
It took more than a year for the event to happen after it was called off April of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 30-year-old Diaz said she is extremely excited that the event is finally happening despite the strict health measures by the organizers due to the same reasons of the virus threat.
“I’m excited, very excited,” Diaz told Manila Bulletin in a message exchange.
“It’s like the Olympics competition, almost all the strong contenders in the 55kg category are here. It’s going to be an exciting event, a preview of the Tokyo Olympics I think.”
A silver medalist in the Rio Olympics, Diaz is aiming for her fourth straight slot in the Summer Games.
By competing in this event, which serves as the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for the region, Diaz will automatically qualify in the Tokyo Olympics set on July 23 to August 8.
Diaz is at No. 5 in the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) ranking in the 55kg women’s category with 3,717.0982 points.
In front of Diaz in the world ranking are four Chinese lifters, Jiang Huihua (4,667.8878), Liao Qiuyun (4,288.9622), Zhang Wangqiong (4,212.6639) and Li Yajun (4,099.0223).
However, as per the IWF guidelines and Tokyo Olympics rules, it appears that only Jiang will advance because only one weightlifter is allowed to compete per country in the Summer Games.
Eight other Filipino weightlifters will compete in the tournament.
These are Mary Flor Diaz (45kg), Ellen Rose Perez (49kg), Margaret Colonia (59kg), Elreen Ann Ando (64kg), Vanessa Sarno (71kg) and Kristel Macrohon (76kg) in the women’s division, while in the men’s category are John Fabuar Ceniza (61kg) and John Dexter Tabique (96kg).
Like Hidilyn Diaz, her cousin Mary Flor Diaz, Ando, Macrohon and Ceniza are also eyeing Olympic berths.