Hidilyn Diaz misses out on Asian Games medal as North Korea's Kim dominates


Posted at Oct 02 2023 04:23 PM | Updated as of Oct 02 2023 06:10 PM

Hidilyn Diaz of Philippines reacts after competing in the 55kg women's clean and jerk weightlifting competition during the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 31) in Hanoi, Vietnam, 20 May 2022. Luong Thai Linh, EPA-EFE/File.
Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in action in the 19th Asian Games. POC-PSC Media Pool.

(2nd UPDATE) Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz fell just short of a medal in the 19th Asian Games, settling for fourth place in the women's 59kg division on Monday afternoon at the Xiaoshan Sports Centre Gymnasium.

Diaz had won gold in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta where she competed in the 53kg weight class, then made history for the Philippines when she won gold in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, competing in the 55kg division.

But those weight classes are not included in the Asiad program, nor in next year's Paris Olympics -- meaning Diaz is now competing in a heavier weight class.

She lifted 97kg in the snatch and 126kg in the clean-and-jerk for a total of 223kg, four kilograms behind Chinese Taipei's Kuo Hsing Chun, who took the bronze medal.

Kuo won gold in the Tokyo Olympics and still holds the world record for the 59kg weight class, having lifted a total of 247kg in April 2021. She was eclipsed by North Korea's Kim Ilgyong and China's Luo Shifang in the Asiad, however.

Kuo was successful in all her lifts in the snatch, including a 101kg in her last lift which proved pivotal. The former world champion registered good lifts on attempts of 122kg and 126kg in the clean-and-jerk, but hampered by what seemed to be a hurting right thigh, she no-lifted her last attempt of 128kg.

That opened the door for Diaz to snatch the bronze, but the Filipina star wobbled in her attempt of 131kg and was unable to make up the difference.

Though she did not make the podium, Diaz remains upbeat as she continues to build towards next year's Paris Olympics -- which would be her fifth appearance in the Summer Games.

"I'm pushing myself to the limit for this," said the 32-year-old Diaz, who will be competing in her fifth Olympics next year.

"I'm confident of winning gold in Paris, but I'll need to lift 107kg and 135kg to do that."


The day belonged to North Korea's Kim, who was successful in all six of her lifts and set a new record in the snatch of 111kg, erasing Kuo's old mark of 110kg.

She lifted 135kg in the clean-and-jerk for a total of 246kg -- a new Asian Games record.

Kim, who is still technically a junior, also broke the junior world records for total snatch, and clean and jerk. She finished just 1kg short of Kuo's senior world record total of 247kg. 

China's Luo settled for silver with a total lift of 240kg (107kg snatch, 133kg clean-and-jerk). 

The 20-year-old Kim is now the third athlete from North Korea to win weightlifting gold in the Asian Games, as the country makes a comeback to the sport after missing out since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ri Song Gum broke two world records in the women's 49kg, and Kang Hyong Yong set a hat-trick of world records in snatch, clean and jerk, and combined on her way to gold in the women's 55kg class. 

North Korean weightlifters have not taken part in international competition since 2019 after the country's borders were sealed because of the pandemic.

When they were scheduled to return to action at a meeting in Cuba in June, rival lifters strongly objected, saying the North Koreans have not been dope-tested since 2019.

The World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) sanctioned North Korea after declaring its national anti-doping body "non-compliant" in 2021.

The sanctions remain to this day and included, in theory, not flying the North Korean flag at any regional, continental or world sports event, excluding the Olympics and Paralympics.

Yet their flag was carried at the opening ceremony in Hangzhou and their weightlifters have proudly saluted it on the podium, often in tears.

North Korea did not take part in the Tokyo Olympics of 2021, citing the pandemic, and were then barred from the 2022 Beijing Winter Games for skipping Tokyo.

Filipino weightlifters have yet to reach the podium in the Asiad. John Ceniza just missed out on a bronze on Sunday night in the men's 61kg class, with his total of 297kg a kilo short of North Korea's Kim Chungguk.

Meanwhile, Rosegie Ramos finished fifth in the women's 49kg on Saturday. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse.


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