Hidilyn Diaz nears fifth straight Olympic berth
MANILA, Philippines-Weightlifting star Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo stayed within range of a fifth straight appearance in the Olympics next year in Paris.
The country’s first and only Olympic gold medalist finished seventh in the women’s 59kg of the 2023 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia after lifting a total of 224 kilograms.
It was enough to keep Diaz-Naranjo going in the qualification process with two more IWF-sanctioned tournaments left for her to seal another Olympic berth.
She placed 11th in the snatch following a 97-kg effort, but mustered enough strength in the clean and jerk with a 127 lift, propelling Diaz-Naranjo to sixth in the event to finish seventh overall in the weight class ruled by China’s Luo Shifang (243kgs).
With her Saudi Arabia world stint over, Diaz-Naranjo has already completed three of the five required tournaments to make it to the French capital next year.
Two more mandatory tournaments are lined up—the 2024 Asian championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Feb. 20-27 and the 2024 IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand on April 2-11 before the Olympic qualification window closes April 28, 2024.
She has to stay within the top 10 in each of these tournaments to punch her fifth consecutive Olympic ticket.
Aside from the IWF Olympic Qualification Ranking process, Diaz-Naranjo can automatically clinch the Paris slot by topping the Uzbekistan Asian championships.
Tokyo Olympian Elreen Ando also remains in contention for an Olympic berth after finishing eighth in the same weight category as Diaz-Naranjo with a total lift of 222. Only one lifter in each weight class can represent her country in the Olympics.
Meanwhile, John Febuar Ceniza remains on track for an Olympic showing after winding up fifth in the men’s 61kg behind gold medalist Li Fabin of China and podium finishers Italy’s Sergio Massidda (silver) and China’s Ding Hongjie (bronze).
Ceniza ranked eighth in the snatch with 131 and recovered at fifth in the clean and jerk with a 165.