MANILA, Philippines -- Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz could not help but be dismayed when the Tokyo Olympics was officially postponed because of the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), together with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, formally moved the Tokyo Games to 2021, after several countries -- including the United States -- publicly expressed their support for a postponement.
"Siyempre malungkot, kasi nag-prepare kami for the Olympics," said Diaz of her reaction to the news.
The Rio Olympics silver medalist is currently in Malaysia, where she has been training for the Games and awaiting news of her next qualifying tournament.
Diaz was supposed to compete in Colombia next month in what would have been her sixth and final Olympic qualifier. However, the tournament was postponed, and Colombia also imposed a travel restriction against foreigners coming from Europe or Asia.
"Expected na four months to go na lang," said Diaz. "Pero dahil sa COVID-19, na-postpone."
Diaz, who is ranked fifth in the world behind four Chinese weightlifters, is on track to qualify for her fourth straight Olympics.
"Alam ko naman po magka-qualify ako, 'di po ako malungkot doon," she explained. "Na-disappoint lang po, kasi gusto ko na tapusin."
Still, she understands the gravity of the situation. There are over 470,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with over 21,000 deaths, according to a tracker. In Malaysia, where Diaz is training, there are nearly 1,800 reported cases.
As Diaz put it, "May mga bagay po na 'di kontrolado."
"Four months to go na lang sana," she added. "Pero ayun nga -- baka may mas malaking plano si God."
The 29-year-old weightlifter vowed that she will not stop working even after the Olympics got postponed. In an Instagram post, she noted that this development gave her "one more year to prepare."
Diaz is set to meet with her team today to discuss their roadmap for Tokyo next year.
"Hindi pwede mag-stop, 'yun ang advantage natin sa iba," she said, stressing that, "Tuloy pa rin ang training."
"Thankful po ako nandiyan pa rin ang Philippine Sports Commission na sinusuportahan pa rin kaming mga Filipino athletes, and thankful ako sa sponsors, nandiyan pa rin sila," she also said.
Diaz plans to return to the Philippines after the enhanced community quarantine is lifted in April.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).