Tolentino urges Hidilyn Diaz to defend Olympic crown
Hidilyn Diaz still hasn’t made any plans official regarding the 2024 Paris Olympics.
And Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino began the process of convincing the country’s first Olympic gold medalist to defend her title.
“I am encouraging her to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympics,” Tolentino said on Friday after hosting Diaz and strength coach Julius Naranjo in a dinner in Tagaytay City. “She hasn’t decided yet.”
Diaz has hinted in the past that the Tokyo Olympics could be her last, but after winning the gold in the women’s 55-kilogram class in Tokyo this year to end nearly a century’s wait for a Filipino Olympic champion, the star weightlifter said she was open to another run in Paris.
“I believe she will still be formidable at that time ,” Tolentino said. “And there will be other weightlifters like Rose Jean Ramos, who could qualify for the Olympics.”
Weightlifting actually has a host of talent waiting in the wings who could be ripe for Paris, among them Tokyo Olympian Elreen Ann Ando and Asian champion Vanessa Sarno.
The two will join Diaz in spearheading a crack Philippine delegation to the world championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, later this year.
Diaz and Naranjo are set to fly to Malacca, Malaysia, on Saturday to train in the same private home and facility where she trained for the Olympics.
“There are no distractions there, it’s a perfect environment,” said Diaz, who has won almost everything except the world championships.
Tolentino hosted the dinner for Diaz and Naranjo to show his appreciation for the weightlifter’s efforts in the Olympics.
“It’s all about expressing her gratitude to everyone before she goes to Malaysia to resume her training for the world championships,” Tolentino, also the PhilCycling president, said. “She thanked everyone and we talked about many things.”
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