Out of podium, Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo picks up insights for Olympic bid
There should be adequate worry over the country’s attempt to at least replicate what has been the most successful Olympic trip by Team Philippines ever in Tokyo two years ago.
Four medals, one of them the breakthrough gold.
At the ongoing Asian Games here in Hangzhou, China, two of those medalists crashed out of the podium race, one of them the breakthrough gold winner.
But Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo brushed off her latest slipup in her bid to repeat her golden triumph next year in the Paris Olympics by putting into context exactly where her fourth-place finish in the Asian Games weightlifting event falls in her grand scheme with a little joke during a postgame interview.
“I’m so happy with today’s training, I mean today’s result,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo laughing.
And by her own reckoning, that “training” session showed her what she wanted to see: Diaz-Naranjo is gradually building up the strength necessary to become a worthy contender in the 2024 Summer Games.
“Just a few more kilos and I’ll be moving closer to getting into the top 5 or 6 (in the world),’’ said Diaz-Naranjo after winding up fourth in women’s weightlifting on Monday.
It would have been a disappointing finish considering Diaz-Naranjo was heavily counted on to bump up Team Philippines’ gold count. The delegation also lost Olympic silver medalist Nesthy Petecio after she lost her bout in women’s boxing.
Forced to switch to a heavier class for her bid in the Olympics, where her normal fighting weight was scrubbed, Diaz-Naranjo finished with a combined lift of 223 kilograms built on her 97 in the snatch and 126 in the clean and jerk.
North Korea’s Kim Ilgyong grabbed the gold medal, shattering all the division’s records along the way. The 20-year-old lifter pushed the bar to 111 kg in the snatch and carried 133 in the clean and jerk for a total of 246, setting a new world record and continental standard in both elite and junior divisions.
But the Asian Games was never really an event circled in Diaz-Naranjo’s calendar.
“This [Asian Games] isn’t a qualifier [to the Olympics]. I just really wanted to compete here,’’ said Diaz-Narnjo.
But something about her performance had her pleased.
“So far, so good. You saw I’d attempted 100 (kgs) [in the snatch] and 131 [in the clean and jerk]. It’s my first time trying them and it made me realize how stronger I’ve become,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo, who used the event to test how she would fare against the division’s top bets.
“All of them are strong, but I’m still happy. At the end of the day, it’s Paris 2024 that matters,’’ she said.China’s Luo Shifang was unseated as Asian champion and settled for the silver following a 240 effort on the strength of a 107 in the snatch and 126 in the clean and jerk.Hsing Chun Kuo of Chinese Taipei completed the podium with a 227 lift despite being hobbled by an injured left knee.
“I think China will be the toughest competitor (in Paris) while Chinese Taipei could be second. I also have to put up against Ukraine, Columbia and Canada,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo, who won the Olympic gold in the women’s 55 kg.
Kim, the North Korean lifting wonder, won’t be seeing action in Paris.
According to Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella, North Korean lifters could be barred from participating in the Olympics since they refuse to undergo doping tests.
The 32-year-old Filipino weightlifting heroine is eyeing for a fifth consecutive appearance in the Olympics.
“From here, I’ll go home and train for [the] Qatar [World Cup],” she said, as she hopes to put to use the insights gained from this “training” session with Asia’s best.
Diaz-Naranjo has already finished three of the five tournaments necessary to make it to Paris.