Hidilyn Diaz to part ways with Chinese coach

Published August 3, 2021, 7:42 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Chinese coach Kaiwen Gao helps Hidilyn Diaz during training in Malaysia prior to the Tokyo Olympics. (From Hidilyn Diaz Instagram)

It’s time to move on for Chinese mentor Gao Kaiwen and Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.

After all, it’s mission accomplished for the two in the Tokyo Olympics.

Diaz said that Gao has opted to return to China and be with his family, which he hasn’t seen for a long time since he started as mentor of the Zamboanga City native back in 2018.

“Gusto na kasi no coach Gao umuwi din, gusto niya makasama ang family niya na matagal na talaga niya din hindi nakikita,” Diaz told the Manila Bulletin in a phone interview Tuesday, August 3.

“Siyempre naiintindihan natin yun, family naman talaga ang uunahin kahit sino lalong-lalo sa panahon na nasa pandemic tayo ngayon. So kailangan niya na umuwi, naiintindihan natin na ito ang priority now ni Coach Gao.”

Under the guidance of Gao, Diaz was able to give the country its first gold medal in the Olympics since it started participating in the Games during the 1924 Paris meet as she ruled the 55-kilogram women’s category in weightlifting.

Diaz also won the gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, her first Southeast Asian Games gold medal here in 2019, and the 2020 Roma World Cup in Rome, Italy—all under Gao.

“Ang tagal din ng naging samahan namin, ang dami niyang naituro sa akin. Siyempre nakaka-lungkot sa part ko, sa part ng ‘Team HD’ na uuwi na siya, pero yun nga, need niya gawin ito for his family,” said Diaz.

Together with Gao, strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, who is also Diaz’s boyfriend, and sports psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad, members of ‘Team HD’ are finishing their quarantine protocol period until August 6, Friday at the Sofitel in Pasay City.

The plan, Diaz said, is to stay at the condominium unit in Eastwood City given by Megaworld Corporation after they finish the quarantine procedure since she has no place to stay.

Details of Gao’s departure are not yet available but Diaz said that would be finalized soon.

For now, what ‘Team HD’ is focusing on is on her training since she plans to compete in the 2021 World Weightlifting Championship this coming November in Lima, Peru.

“Tuloy pa din ako sa training maski na andito sa quarantine. Wala din naman kasi gagawin dito. Saka yes gusto ko sumali sa world championship, so kung gusto ko na maging maganda ang performance ko dun, tuloy lang training,” said the 30-year-old Diaz.

As to who would be her next head coach?

Gao has recommended Naranjo.

“Magaling naman si Julius, siya din ang recommended ni Coach Gao,” said Diaz, adding that getting another foreign mentor as replacement to Gao is not an option for ‘Team HD.’