Hidilyn Diaz confident weightlifting will remain in Olympic program

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2021 02:39 PM

Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines salutes while the national anthem is played.
Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines salutes while the national anthem is played. Edgard Garrido, Reuters

MANILA, Philippines -- Olympic champion Hidilyn Diaz is well aware of the recent scandals that have cast a cloud on weightlifting, but she is confident that her sport will remain in the Olympic program for the foreseeable future.

In a recent report, Reuters said that despite the breakthroughs of weightlifting in Tokyo -- including Diaz's gold medal, the first-ever for the Philippines -- the sport remains plagued by doping scandals and questions abound regarding its leadership.

Just last June, the former head of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), Tamas Ajan of Hungary, was charged with "complicity and tampering" in regard to doping offenses. Also charged was current IWF vice-president Nicu Vlad.

Weightlifting is still part of the program for the Paris Olympics in 2024, but an IWF official, Sam Coffa, told Reuters that this can still change.

"Ang alam ko, matutuloy 'yan. Meron pa rin 'yang weightlifting. Imposibleng wala," Diaz told reporters during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday morning, where she appeared together with other Olympic medalists -- boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial.

"Siguro, may mga reform lang na kailangang gawin ang IWF," Diaz added. "And ayun nga, pag-usapan 'yan ng IWF and IOC."

Diaz pointed out that weightlifting has been an Olympic sport for a long time now -- it was an athletics event in 1896 -- and the sport's leadership will find a way to maintain its place in the program.

This may mean limiting the number of athletes who can compete in the events.

"Siguro may mga quota lang 'yan. Kasi balita ko noong last year, 120 quota na lang. So magiging mas mahirap ang qualifying, mas mahirap 'yung, 120 quota, maliit lang 'yun sa amin," said Diaz. "Pero ayun nga, at least mabigyan ng opportunity ang mga weightlifter makapaglaro."

"So hindi ako naniniwala na matatanggal ang weightlifting sa IOC, or sa Olympics. Kasi nga, matagal na 'yung sports. Kailangan lang talaga ng reform, at may ginagawa ang IWF," she added.

The 30-year-old Diaz, a two-time Olympic medalist, has not ruled out competing in the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. It would be her fifth Olympic stint, having made her debut as a 17-year-old in Beijing in 2008.

However, she said she will have to think deeply about it.

"Siyempre, additional three years of sacrifices din po 'yun sa training. Medyo mahirap kasi 'yung, ayun nga, 'yung preparation," said Diaz, who trained for over a year in Malaysia ahead of the Tokyo Games, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a postponement of the Olympics.

"Titignan ko pa rin kung saan 'yung kaya, saan kaya ng katawan ko, saan kaya din ng coaches na mag-sakripisyo din," she said. "Kung tatanungin kung kaya ko pa, kung makita ko 'yung lakas ko, 'yung performance ko this year, kaya pa. Kaya pa."

"Pero ayun, i-assess ko muna po kung kaya pa. Kaya naman, pero 'yun, sacrifices po eh."

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