Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez believes that veteran weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz has the best chance to capture a medal in this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Ramirez said the experience Diaz had gained from the previous three Olympics, including the recent one during the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil where Diaz won a silver medal, would help her when she competes in the Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m very happy for Hidilyn for her fourth Olympic qualifying,” said Ramirez in a message to Manila Bulletin Monday night. “ She has the biggest chance to get an Olympic medal in Tokyo.”
“With her experience for the past three Olympics, her international exposure, dreams, family, her pride and sacrifices, Hidilyn is the biggest chance (for a medal) in the Tokyo Olympics.”
“That’s the reason why the PSC has bankrolled her training, her team, the basic supports and foreign exposures,” he added.
Aside from Diaz, six other Filipinos have clinched spots in the Tokyo Olympics, including boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, Carlos Yulo of gymnastics and pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
Ramirez also believes in the capabilities of the other athletes and their chances of winning a medal, but what separates Diaz from them is that all six will be making their Olympics debut.
The 30-year-old Diaz clinched her fourth straight Olympic berth after finishing fourth in the women’s 55kg category in the Asian Weightlifting Championship last Sunday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Her participation in the Asian Championship, which also served as the region’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), completed the required number of six OQTs aside from being in the top eight in the world ranking of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
Diaz is currently at No. 5 in the world 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, under the IWF guidelines and Tokyo Olympics rules, only one lifter per country will be allowed to compete.
Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puetevella echoed what the PSC chief said, adding that Diaz is on track despite missing the podium in the Asian tilt.
“Mission accomplished. Just to qualify, not necessarily to win,” said Puentevella, a former Mayor and congressman in Bacolod City.
“We’re on track. Barring all obstacles, we’re looking at another medal (for Diaz in the Tokyo Olympics). We now know our strengths and weaknesses. Let God do the rest.”