Talk of Olympics cancellation unnerved Hidilyn
Rio Olympics silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz expressed her desire on Wednesday to have 3 members of her coaching staff around and accredited should she make it to the Tokyo Olympics in July.
Diaz, who has been training in Malaysia since last year, addressed this to Olympic national team chef de mission Mariano Araneta Jr. during the Philippine Olympic Committee general assembly meeting that was held virtually and in person at the Grand Hyatt Manila Hotel in Taguig City.
“I need 3 people and hopefully all of them will be given accreditation, I need them for my warmup before my actual lift,” stressed Diaz, who broke the country’s two-decade medal drought at the 2016 Olympics when she bagged silver in the women’s 53-kilogram division with a total lift of 200 kilos.
Diaz is eyeing a fourth stint at the quadrennial Games since qualifying as a wild card at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“Since I am competing for a medal, I don’t want to risk it if my support system is not there with me. I really hope that all 3 of them will get accredited,” she added.
Diaz was referring to Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen coach, assistant coach Catalino Diaz, and Chamorro fitness and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, who have been with her in Malaysia since early last year.
Araneta said he would take up her request with the Philippine Sports Commission, which will be funding the Olympic contingent, once he gets the endorsement from weightlifting head Monico Puentevella.
Puentevella, who was physically present during the POC general assembly and heard Diaz’s anxieties, said he would immediately endorse the weightlifter’s request to Araneta.
Diaz explained why she needed all three coaches in Tokyo.
“All of the athletes competing in the Olympics are the best of the best in the world. One second, one kilo, one mistake can spell all the difference” she said. “Before you perform you also need a strategy so I need them there.”
Diaz told the assembly her worries were heightened when she read and heard recently that the Tokyo Olympics might be scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an allegation denied outright by Japanese organizers as well as International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach in separate press statements.
“Siyempre kinabahan ako sa fake news, medyo na-down din. Iyong anxiety tumaas (I became nervous over the fake news and was down. My anxiety arose),” Diaz said.
At 29, Diaz's probable Tokyo Games stint could be her swan song on the Olympic stage.
A gold medalist in the 2018 Asian Games and 2019 Philippine Southeast Asian Games, Diaz is considered a shoo-in for Tokyo, based on her current rank in the International Weightlifting Federation Olympic qualifying rankings.
She can formalize her Olympic ticket by competing in the Asian weightlifting championships set April 16 to 25, according to Puentevella.
“By competing Uzbekistan, Hidy (Diaz’s nickname) will fulfill the required six events she needs to qualify through the IWF Olympic qualifying rankings,” he explained.
Based on the Olympic qualification format of the International Weightlifting Federation, the sport’s world governing body, lifters must compete in 6 IWF-sanctioned events to meet the rankings list by the end of April where the top 8 names qualify for the Tokyo Summer Games, he added.
Diaz can meet those requirements in Uzbekistan since she is now No. 4 in the IWF Olympic qualifying rankings in the 55-kg women’s division behind Chinese bets Liao Qiuyun, Zhang Wangjiong and Li Jayun, who are ranked Nos. 1 to 3 in that order.
At the 2019 Asian championships in Pattaya, Thailand, the Pinay campaigner had a bronze medal each with an overall lift of 214 kilograms and 121 kilos in the clean-and-jerk, while finishing 8th in the snatch with 93 kilos.