‘Ambitious’ Hidilyn stays within Olympic qualifying cut
Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo remains on track for another Olympic trip next year in Paris.
But the nation’s first and only Olympic gold medalist made it crystal clear that she won’t be there just for the sights and sounds the glittering French capital has to offer.
“I have the ambition to win the Olympics one more time, that is what motivates me on a daily basis,’’ Diaz-Naranjo told iwf.sport, the official website of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), after winding up seventh at the ongoing 2023 World Weightlifting Championships in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The Filipino lifting celebrity is aware of the upward trek, having experienced the rigors of winning the Olympic gold back in Tokyo 2021.
But this is an entirely different beast that she is dealing with.
Besides moving up from a triumphant stint in the 55 kilograms to a heavier class at 59 kg, a pile of equally tenacious opponents stands on Diaz-Naranjo’s path back atop the podium.
She endured it firsthand early Saturday morning (Manila) in the Riyadh worlds where Diaz-Naranjo dropped out of the magic 10 in the snatch only to recover in the clean and jerk to settle for seventh overall.
“I messed up in the snatch. I could have reached an even better result, but things didn’t go well as I wanted. I was perhaps overwhelmed by this new [weight] category and I inevitably got a bit nervous at the beginning of the competition,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo.
She lifted 97 in the snatch, an effort good for 11th, before mustering enough strength in the clean and jerk by hoisting the bar at 127 for sixth place.
Diaz-Naranjo’s total of 224 picked her up to seventh overall in the weight class ruled by China’s Luo Shifang (243 kg), Ukraine’s Kamila Konotop (236) and China’s Pei Xinyi (232).
“Things went better in the end. I know I have plenty of room for improvement in the upcoming competitions. I am hopeful that I can get close to 230kg,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo.
With her Saudi Arabia world stint over, Diaz-Naranjo has already completed three of the five required tournaments to make it to France next year.
Two more mandatory tournaments are lined up—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, 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.
Meanwhile, John Febuar Ceniza also remains on track for an Olympic showing after winding up fifth in the men’s 61 kg behind gold medalist Li Fabin of China and podium finishers Italy’s Sergio Massidda (silver) and China’s Ding Hongjie (bronze).