New coach wanted: Weightlifting on the hunt for viable Gao replacement
The Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) is shopping around for a new foreign coach. And it is looking past the Chinese variety.
SWP president Monico Puentevella said they want somebody who has the same caliber of longtime mentor Gao Kaiwen, who helped Hidilyn Diaz win the country’s first-ever gold medal in the Olympics.
But the qualification of who will be the new man in charge doesn’t end with just the technical know-how.
“We want somebody who has the know-how of coach Gao, but also somebody who will have the same rapport with the national athletes and local coaching staff,” said Puentevella.
He stressed the importance of teamwork, which enabled Diaz to break the country’s 97-year search for a maiden Olympic gold.
Gao, who was once the head coach of the mighty Chinese national team, has been recalled back to China and will help in preparation for the next big events.
“We need to restore that magic. It’s still a long way to go for us, we are not stopping after Hidilyn [won the gold medal],” said the former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner and Philippine Olympic Committee chair. “We have very promising talents to follow her (Diaz’s) lead.”
Puentevella is referring to young lifters who have made waves in the international scene, like Vanessa Sarno of Bohol, Elreen Ando of Cebu and sisters Rosegie and Rose Jean Ramos of Zamboanga City.
Ando placed seventh in her event during the Tokyo Games and is being groomed for the next two Olympics.
Diaz, who was recently engaged to coach and boyfriend Julius Naranjo, has also declared her intention to compete in Paris 2024.
He said the SWP will seek the assistance of the PSC in retaining the services of a foreign coach through its partnerships with several foreign sports ministries.
“The coach doesn’t have to be Chinese, as long as he is qualified,” added Puentevella.
Gao formed part of the “Team HD,” which is also composed of Naranjo, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and sports psychologist Karen Trinidad.