Weightlifting eyes three-athlete milestone in Paris | Inquirer Sports
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Weightlifting eyes three-athlete milestone in Paris

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 04:15 AM August 15, 2023

John Febuar Ceniza works out at the Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Gym inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. —FILE PHOTO

John Febuar Ceniza works out at the Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Gym inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. —FILE PHOTO

Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo is on course for a fifth straight appearance in the Summer Games. Vanessa Sarno, the rising weightlifting star and a former Asian champion, could join her in Paris next year.

If John Febuar Ceniza continues his run of consistent finishes, he could make weightlifting etch a milestone for the country in the Olympiad.

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“We can have three lifters in the Paris Olympics if they consistently make the necessary rankings in the qualification tournaments,’’ said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella.

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Ceniza is well within Olympic qualification range in the men’s 61-kilogram division after placing fifth in the 2023 Asian championships in Jinji, South Korea, and 10th in the 2022 world championships in Bogota, Colombia.

The top 10 athletes in each weight class book outright tickets to Paris, which means Ceniza needs to stay within that magic circle in his next three qualifying tournaments to achieve his Olympic dream and make the SWP the first national sports association to send three athletes to the Games.

“I want to be in the Olympics. This is my chance, so I’m working doubly hard in training,’’ said Ceniza, the 2020 World Cup bronze medalist in the same weight class.

The three lifters will compete in next month’s IWF World Weightlifting Championships in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from Sept. 4 to Sept. 17, which will be their third qualification meet out of the five tournaments needed on the road to Paris.

Diaz-Naranjo went up to 59 kg this time from her usual weight category of 55 kg where the four-time Olympian captured the nation’s first Olympic gold in Tokyo 2021. She placed fourth in the recent Asian championships.

The 19-year-old Sarno got a silver medal in the women’s 71 kg of the Asian championships.

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After the Saudi world championships, two more mandatory tournaments are scheduled: The 2024 Asian championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Feb. 20 to Feb. 27 and the 2024 IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand, on April 2 to April 11.

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TAGS: Sports, Weightlifting

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