After tough loss, Hidilyn now has clear idea what it will take to win gold in Tokyo
Over the next three months, there are specific figures that Hidilyn Diaz should conquer for a clear shot at an Olympic gold medal.
The weightlifting celebrity and her team have crunched the numbers based on the output of a menacing foe in world champion Liao Quiyun of China during the recent International Weightlifting Federation Asian Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“What you saw in Uzbekistan is the preview of the Tokyo Olympics. It gave us an idea on the strength of her opponent,’’ said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella.
Liao, the current world record-holder in the women’s 55 kilograms, where Diaz will see action in Tokyo, easily struck gold in their meeting in the Asian champs after the Chinese lifted 98 kg in the snatch and 124 kg in the clean and jerk for a triumphant runaway total of 222.
Diaz wound up fourth with a combined total of 212 kg after carrying 94 kg in the snatch and the 118 kg in the clean and jerk.
Based on this output, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist is six kilograms away from giving Liao a good fight in the clean and jerk and 4 kg to at least match the Chinese in the snatch.
“Her coaches now know the weight that Hidilyn has to run after. If the Chinese has a 6-kg advantage, they have to work on that,’’ said Puentevella, who is also hoping that fellow lifters Elreen Ando and Kristel Macrohon can join Diaz in Tokyo.
Ando claimed the silver medal in the women’s 64 kg while Macrohon the bronze in the 76-kg category. Puentevella said he would lobby for a wildcard entry in the Olympics for Vanessa Sarno, who surprised the nation with a gold medal in the women’s 71kg.
Diaz has returned to training in Malaysia with Chinese coach Kaiwen Gao and strength/conditioning coach Julius Naranjo to overcome Liao’s figures and will set up camp in Japan one month before the July 23 opener of the Olympics.
“We are in a good situation. Hidilyn should avoid injuries over the next three months while working on her goal. I’m already thankful for whatever medal she wins in the Olympics,’’ said Puentevella.
Despite the daunting task that Diaz should hurdle, the former chairman of the Philippine Olympic Committee and commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission remains positive that the four-time Olympian has a chance for the gold.
Diaz was already good for a bronze medal in the women’s 53 kg of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics when world champion Li Yajun of China failed on all of her three attempts in the clean and jerk.
“So from bronze, we were able to get the silver. It can happen in Japan. Hidilyn’s opponent might sustain an injury or contract a fever before the competition, you will never know,’’ said Puentevella.
Diaz will achieve another milestone by just stepping on the medal podium of the coming Tokyo Games since no other Filipino athlete won two medals in the Olympics. INQ
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