TOKYO — A four-time Olympic warrior, steep in discipline and a product of rigorous indoor training, and a young upstart, a street-instructed rising star, will take their quest in the XXXII Olympiad to the highest level of sports excellence when they kick off their events Monday, July 25 with gold medals awaiting if they get pass the gauntlet of world class competition.
Hidilyn Diaz, 30, silver medalist in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, debuts in the -55kg category of the weightlifting competition at the Tokyo International Forum, hoping to crown with gold her projected final Olympic Games, a journey that took her to Beijing (2008), London (2012) and Brazil in search of that elusive gold medal.
“This would be her swan song,” said weightlifting chief Monico Puentevella. “And her crowning glory. She has paid her dues and has nothing more to prove.”
Except the business of winning for the country its first-ever gold.
But the road to the gold won’t be rosy.
In her path is Chinese world record holder Liao Qiuyun of China, who has been tagged as the lifter to beat in the Games.
Events will be in snatch, and clean & jerk.
Over at the Ariake Urban Sports Park, skateboard impresario Margielyn Didal, 22, intends to put on a show in the street category event, something she did when she rose to fame after winning the gold medal with bold and innovative routines in the Palembang Asian Games in 2018.
The Games will be a stage grander than anything else she has conquered though.
“The Olympics has a bigger field of play, Iba siya from others at kumpleto talaga,” said Carl Sembrano, president of Skateboard Pilipinas Sunday morning on the eve of Didal’s competition.
“Dati 2 to 3 rails, yung me steps, now 6 rails, may flat and round, variety talaga. Kumbaga, dati half court lang, ngayon buo na. ”
The competition, Sembrano said, will be nothing new to the Cebuana skateboarder however.
“Kilala na ni Margie mga makakalaban niya, dati na niyang mga nakakasama,” he said.
According to the sport’s manual, “in street skateboarding, each skater will take two 45 second runs and perform five tricks that will be judged on a score out of 10. Out of those seven total performances, the four highest scores of each skater will count.”
“Sa diskarte na lang talaga magkakatalo,” said Sembrano, also the deputy secretary-general of the Philippine Olympic Committee.
Didal fell short of directly qualifying to the Games at the 2021 World Street Skateboarding Championships in Rome, but gained passage as the 13th placed skater in the world.
“Actually, pasok na siya sa Olympics non,” said Sembrano. “We just protected her standings para di na bumaba.”
Shooter Jayson Valdez failed to make it to the podium round after finishing 44th in the 10m air rifle men’s qualification at the Asaka Shooting Range.
Only the top eight shooters advanced to the quarterfinals.
And rower Cris Nievarez’s fairy tale run in the men’s single sculls also came to an end after he came in fifth out of six in his quarterfinal heat at the Sea Forest Waterway.
The top three finishers advanced to the semifinals.
So far, in the medal tally, host Japan has won four, including three golds. China has five, with three golds and two bronzes, and the United States has seven with one gold, two silvers and four bronzes.