A first for Diaz-Naranjo: onsite Olympics training camp     

hidilyn diaz gold World Weightlifting Championship

Hidilyn Diaz wins three golds in the 2022 World Weightlifting Championship. –Coach Jeaneth Aro/Facebook

Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo will be competing in her fifth Olympics in the Paris Games next year. But there’s always room for a first time for the country’s weightlifting queen.

Diaz-Naranjo and a selection of medal hopefuls will set up camp in the city of Metz, some 300 kilometers west of Paris, two months before the start of the Summer Games after a long-planned agreement between the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and La Moselle was finalized recently.

“We in the POC are making sure our qualified athletes will be well prepared and acclimatized for the Olympics,’’ said POC president Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino, who signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with La Moselle president Patrick Weiten.

Diaz-Naranjo ended the country’s 97-year wait for an Olympic gold when she ruled the 55-kg class of women’s weightlifting in the Tokyo edition of the meet in 2021.

And the POC doesn’t want that to be a one-off feat.

“Our target is to win [another] gold medal. It will certainly be an added blessing if we can have more,’’ said Tolentino.

Olympic silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam of boxing are among the other athletes qualified for the Metz camp, along with Olympic boxing bronze winner Eumir Marcial—provided they book spots to the Paris Games.

The MOU between Tolentino and Weiten, a veteran community leader in France, covers the use of sports facilities for practically all sports as well as accommodation and food for Filipino athletes to the Games.