MANILA, Philippines -- Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen will still play a role in Team HD, even if he will no longer be the head coach of Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.
Gao has served as Diaz's coach since 2018 and the Filipina has credited him with helping improve her performances. In the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Diaz became the Philippines' first-ever Olympic gold medalist after ruling the women's 55kg division.
However, it is uncertain if Gao will continue with his role in Team HD, a situation that Diaz said she understands.
"Kasi medyo matagal-tagal na rin siyang hindi nakauwi sa kanila, at parang siyempre dahil sa pandemic, mas pipiliin niyang i-treasure 'yung time with his family and 'yung tatay niya," Diaz said in an appearance on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
"Grateful ako sa lahat ng binigay niyang oras, 'yung knowledge niya, 'yung effort, at saka tulong na binigay niya sa akin sa training, towards Tokyo 2020," she added.
Before coaching Diaz, Gao also trained Chinese weightlifters Chen Xiexia and Zhou Lulu.
His contract reportedly runs until December.
Diaz told reporters that they plan for Gao to remain a member of Team HD even if he can no longer be a full-time head coach.
"Nag-usap na kami, ang Team HD. Parang si Coach Gao, baka gagawin naming consultant. Tapos, si Coach Julius (Naranjo) ang head coach," she explained.
"Hahanap kami ng assistant coach na tutulong sa amin pagdating sa laro," she added.
Diaz also plans for Team HD to train other aspiring weightlifters who can represent the Philippines in international events.
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