Following the successful stint of the national weightlifting team in the recently concluded Asian Championship in Uzbekistan, Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella said he is likely to retain the setup in terms of preparation for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.
Unlike most national sports associations that prefer a bubble training camp for athletes preparing for the SEA Games, Puentevella said they are looking at having the lifters train in their respective hometowns.
He said that after the Tokyo Olympics, the SWP would conduct a tryout this August in Bacolod City for the biennial meet in Vietnam that will comprise members of the national team.
“We have 12 (Filipino) coaches, they’re all based around the country. This competition in Uzbekistan has proven that maski doon lang sila sa kanilang mga probinsya, marami ang nag-medalya (even if they were in their provinces, most of them won medals,” said Puentevella during the online PSA Forum Tuesday, April 28.
“Dito na muna kami sa mga probinsya (We’ll continue with our training in the provinces). They are secured with their families.”
“Kung ilagay ko sila sa bubble training camp baka mawalan ng focus (If we put them in a bubble training camp, there is a possibility that they might lose focus).”
Puentevella, a longtime sports official who served as a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission and chairman of the Philippine Olympic Committee, was referring to Asian Championship medalists Vanessa Sarno, Mary Flor Diaz, Elreen Ann Ando, Kristel Macrohon and John Fabuar Ceniza.
Sarno won two gold and silver medals in the 71kg women’s division, Flor bagged three silvers in women’s 45kg, Ando took two silvers and a bronze in women’s 64kg, Macrohon had two bronze medals in women’s 76kg, while Ceniza got a bronze medal in the men’s 61kg division.
Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz also competed in the said event that also served as an Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for the region.
Although the 30-year-old Diaz did not win a medal, her fourth-place finish was enough to secure her a slot in this year’s Tokyo Olympics – the fourth straight time she is competing in the Games.
In preparation for the OQT, Diaz trained in Malaysia with her “HD Team” with Chinese coach Kaiwen Gao and strength/condition mentor Julius Naranjo since February last year.
Puentevella said that there is nothing wrong in having foreign coaches, but after producing medals in the Asian Championship, he said Filipino coaches deserves to continue their work to prepare for the SEA Games.
“I also admire foreign coaches, but let us not disregard the value of local coaches. Foreign coaches are good and they can help, but we should not also belittle the talent of our national coaches. It was proven in Uzbekistan,” said Puentevella.
He said that since the weightlifting facility is inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila, which is being used as a COVID-19 quarantine facility, the PSC already sent various weightlifting equipment to different provinces, including Cebu, Bohol, Zamboanga City and Baguio City.