Lifter Diaz, shooter Rosario get going todayBy Ted S. Melendres
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LONDON—Lifter Hidilyn Diaz and skeet shooter Brian Rosario step into the Olympic spotlight Monday hoping to steal the thunder from the big guns in their respective sport at the 2012 London Games here.
Rosario, who made it to these Games as a wild card pick of the international shooting federation, plunges into action first as he joins 35 other skeet specialists at 9 a.m. (4 p.m. Manila time) in the competition at Britain’s historic Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.
The two-time Olympian Diaz then caps the tiny Philippine delegation’s curiously busy day when she challenges the world’s strongest women lifters in the 58-kilogram class starting at 2:30 p.m. at ExCeL South Arena 3 in East London’s Docklands area.
Diaz is grouped in the second-echelon, eight-lifter bracket B where she ranks second only to Ecuador’s Maria Alexandra Guerrero based on submitted total lift projections. The Zamboanga City marvel’s 225 kg projected lift is 2 kg lighter than the Ecuadoran’s.
China’s world and Olympic record-holder Chan Yanqing is missing from the competition but compatriot Li Xueying, who posted the year’s best total lift of 242 kg just a month ago in France, and Thailand’s Pimsiri Sikaew (241) are in the 11-lifter premier bracket, each one of whom has a personal-best of at least 230.
“I feel I have improved much since Beijing,” Diaz, the 21-year-old daughter of a tricycle driver, said in Filipino. “I can do much better this time.”
Diaz, a wild card entry in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, lifted a total of only 192 kg and wound up second to last in a field of 12.
Her coach Tony Agustin said the 6 kg weight difference—Diaz’s personal best is 219—is “manageable.” A projected total only gives each lifter her or his place in the two groupings.
“Unlike in Beijing when she was only 17, she’s ready and stronger now,” said Agustin. “I know she’ll be good tomorrow. Kaya yung (she can lift) 225 kilos.”
The 31-year-old Rosario has a personal best score of 120 birds, just one shy of the gold medal-winning effort of Vincent Hancock of the United States in the Beijing Olympics. Hancock also holds the world record of 125 he shot in Lonato, Italy, in 2007.
He will be using a Perazzi shotgun he bought for $3,000 when he shoots for one of six berths in the finals.
“I had good records in three World Cup events, so I think I have a chance,” said the bespectacled Rosario, who took to the sport at age 6. “I just need to focus well tomorrow. I worked really hard to get here.”
The only Filipino shooter to make it to these Games, Rosario is grouped alongside Anders Golding of Denmark, Stefan Nilsson of Sweden, Ennio Falco of Italy, Frank Falco of Italy, Frank Thomson of the US and Anthony Terras of France in the second squad.
Rosario’s optimism is shared by his coach Gay Corral, a former national champion herself, who described her ward as a “highly discerning shooter.”
“Brian is ripe for the Olympics,” Corral said. “If he shoots his personal best, then that will be a fantastic bonus.”
In his finest performance ever, Rosario shot that 120 in a world shotgun competition in Serbia last year, earning him a spot in the Top 10, the only Asian to do so, and the attention of national shooting chief Mikee Romero.
“He’s capable of beating the world’s best,” Romero said of Rosario. “He’ll be a force in the sport someday.”