Road to Paris 2024 starts in Hanoi for Hidilyn Diaz
MANILA, Philippines–Hidilyn Diaz won the last Southeast Asian Games’ weightlifting event with relative ease and has gone on to conquer the world since then.
Entering this year’s Hanoi edition as the reigning Olympic champion, Diaz is hands down the overwhelming favorite to dominate her division and get a streak of tournaments going as she prepares for her next big target: Paris 2024.
“The plan is to keep competing until the Paris [Olympics in] 2024,” Diaz said in a virtual presser hosted by Summit Water on Tuesday. “If there’s also another weightlifting event in Cambodia (in 2023), then I’ll also compete in that SEA Games.”
The Zamboanga City native bagged her first SEA Games gold in 2019 here in Manila, lifting a total of 211 kilograms to rule the 55kg division to easily eclipse the 197 of Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi.
Beating the best in the world in the Tokyo Games last year, Diaz looks to be an overkill for the field in Hanoi. But the 32-year-old star, named by the Philippine Sportswriters Association and Inquirer Sports as 2021’s top athlete, is also excited at the prospect of seeing other Filipino weightlifters triumph next month in Vietnam.
“I’m actually seeing a lot of Filipino weightlifters who are stronger than me,” Diaz said as she listed Sarno her likely heir apparent. “I can see Vanessa Sarno. She’s competing in 71 kilograms.”
Diaz leads a 13-strong team, which also features the Asian champion Sarno, another SEA Games gold winner in Kristel Macrohon and fellow Tokyo Olympian Elreen Ando.
Also in that contingent are Fernando Agad, Jr., Rowel Garcia, Nestor Colonia, Lemon Tarro, John Padullo, John Tabique, Mary Flor Diaz, Rosegie Ramos and Margaret Colonia.
Diaz also believes that those competing in the lower weight divisions are oozing with potential and are capable of also winning in the Olympics.
“There’s a significantly better chance for those in the lower weights among those from Southeast Asia. (Those competing in) 55, 59, 49 kilos are those who can win in the Olympics,” she said.
The Philippines finished third overall in weightlifting behind Vietnam, this year’s host, and Indonesia, during the Manila edition.
This year’s showcase is slated from May 19 through 22 at Hanoi Sports Training Center.
Inquirer’s special coverage of the Hanoi SEA Games 2021.