Hidilyn Diaz clinched her fourth straight Olympic berth after finishing fourth overall in the women’s 55kg category in the Asian Weightlifting Championship Sunday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
A silver medalist in the Rio Olympics back in 2016, the 30-year-old Diaz used the tournament as a tune-up event as she lifted 94kgs in snatch and 118kgs in clean and jerk for a total of 212kgs.
By just participating, Diaz completed the required numbers of participation in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), which is six, since the event also serves as OQT for the region.
Although she missed the podium, Diaz said she is very much satisfied with her performance since making it to the Tokyo Olympics is the goal in this event, and she can now focus on the Summer Games.
“No regrets, I did my best,” said Diaz in a message exchange with Manila Bulletin Monday.
“I’m happy and thankful that I finally qualified in the Tokyo Olympics, that I was given an opportunity to be here in Asian Weightlifting Championship, that I was able to represent the Philippines in this OQT.”
China’s Qiuyun Liao took the gold medal, while compatriot Yajun Li settled with silver, and Muattar Nabieva of Uzbekistan earned the bronze medal in this OQT that was one year in the making after its postponement last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the OQT, Diaz is at No. 5 in the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) ranking with 3,717.0982 points in the 55kg women’s category.
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, only one lifter is allowed to compete per country in the Games.
Diaz is the seventh Filipino that has earned a spot in the Tokyo Olympics as she joined boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, Carlos Yul of gymnastics and pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
Al Panlilio, president of the MVP Sports Foundation (MVPSF), which financially supports various sports associations including weightlifting, shared his delight on the achievement of Diaz.
“I was very happy in the qualification of Hidilyn in the Tokyo Olympics,” said Panlilio, as he congratulated Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) chief Monico Puetevella.
“Wishing Hidilyn the best in achieving the first gold for the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics.”
Aside from the MVPSF, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) led by its chairman Butch Ramirez, also provides financial assistance to the campaign of the weightlifters in Asian Championship.
Diaz and her ‘HD Team’ of Chinese mentor Kaiwen Gao and strength/condition coach Julius Naranjo will resume their training camp in Malaysia, and the veteran weightlifter said focus is now preparing for the Tokyo Olympics as she aims for the gold medal.
“I’m happy that I learned a lot yesterday, and marami pa kailangan na i-improve (there are lots of things to improve),” said Diaz.
Meanwhile, Mary Flor Diaz missed a chance to join her cousin Hidilyn in Japan as she settled with three silver medals in the women’s 45kg category. Jhilli Dalabehera of India ruled the event to advance in the Tokyo Olympics.
On the other hand, John Fabuar Ceniza took the bronze medal in the men’s 61kg division, while Ellen Rose Perez missed the podium as she placed fourth in women’s 49kg category.