MANILA, Philippines—There will be no holiday break for Hidilyn Diaz, who is chasing qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
This, even after the 28-year-old weightlifter won gold in the women's 55-kg division of the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Monday at Ninoy Aquino Stadium, her first in the competition.
The victory was crucial for Diaz, as the SEA Games is classified as a silver-level International Weightlifting Federation qualification event, meaning she will gain additional ranking points. As of Dec. 2, Diaz is ranked ninth in the world in her weight class.
"Next (for me) is the Roma World Cup (in Italy), then after that, Asian Championships, then Olympics," a tired but elated Diaz said after her triumph at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
"Please include me in your prayers."
The Roma 2020 World Cup is on Jan. 27 to 31, while the Asian Championships is on April 16 to 25 in Kazakhstan.
Given the short turnaround between the SEA Games and the Roma 2020 World Cup, Diaz said there is no time for her to take a break, not even for the upcoming holidays.
"After this, tomorrow training na agad ako, wala akong Christmas, wala akong New Year," she said.
"Dito lang ako, magte-training," she added. "Kailangan ko mag-training, kailangan ko mag-diet."
Diaz, whose silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics made her a household name, won't deny that she has a long road ahead. Even after her triumph in the SEA Games, she was a little critical of her performance and saw plenty of things she needed to work on.
"Clean and jerk, alam kong kaya ko. Sa snatch, medyo hindi ko pa naayos yung technique ko," said Diaz, who lifted 91kg in the snatch and 120kg in the clean-and-jerk for a combined weight of 211kg.
Still, she is upbeat, and reasonably confident.
"Maganda ang 2019 ko," said Diaz. "Ang laki ng naging progress ng training ko, technique ko, then, right track kami towards Tokyo 2020."
"So please," she added, "Support us."
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