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After Olympic silver and Asiad gold, Hidilyn finally rules SEA Games

/ 04:02 AM December 03, 2019

DECEMBER 2, 2019: Philippines’ Hidlyn Diaz competes in the women’s snatch 55kg weightlifting at the 30th SEA Games 2019. INQUIRER PHOTO/ Sherwin Vardeleon

Hidilyn Diaz finally struck gold in the Southeast Asian Games.

That seems to be quite an oddity for someone who already owns an Olympic silver medal and an Asian Games gold medal.

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But the quirk of the scheduling and the path she charted to success left her with zero success in the biennial meet—until its 30th staging on Monday night.

“She’s been longing for this,” her longtime mentor, Agustin Antonio, told the Inquirer.

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Team Philippines’ golden girl, however, wasn’t quite prepared for it.

“It was overwhelming, because I didn’t know how to control the crowd,” said Diaz, who had to take several pauses before her routines to allow the spectators to pipe down. “But I’m very grateful.”

That was the only distraction Diaz faced at Ninoy Aquino Stadium as she whipped the field to rule the 55-kilogram class of women’s weightlifting. Her opponents hardly made her pause.

Diaz nailed five of her total six attempts for a whopping total of 211 kg.

Diaz lifted 91 kg in snatch, and 120 in clean and jerk to utterly dominate the field—one that was devoid of Thai presence allegedly due to doping.

“I feel like I have made significant progress with my technique,” she said. “We’re now also on the right track for the Olympics.”

Nguyen Thi, the Filipino’s closest pursuer, had to settle with her first snatch try of 82 kg. She went on to give Diaz a run for her money in the second phase, but still finished way behind with a total of 197.

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Klarisa Juliana of Indonesia had 175 overall to claim the bronze.

Diaz’s gold finally puts an end to a SEA Games dream, one that started also here, in 2005, and one that seemed quite a minor goal after her silver at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 and her gold in last year’s Asiad in Jakarta.“It’s only fitting she [got the gold] here, for everyone to see,” Antonio said.

The mentor also recalled a special moment during that last Philippine hosting when he was approached by Intarat Yodbangtoey, Thailand’s top weightlifting figurehead.

“[Yodbangtoey] told us to take care of [Hidilyn],” Antonio said. “They already saw the potential that she’d bring us Olympic [glory].” INQ

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