Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo, PH lifters aim to bolster Olympic bids in Doha tilt
MANILA, Philippines–Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo has two more tournaments left in her bid for an unprecedented fifth straight Olympic Games.
The Tokyo Olympics gold medalist should maintain her status at the International Weightlifting Federation Grand Prix scheduled to begin Monday in Doha, Qatar to stay within contention.
Diaz-Naranjo ranks seventh in the women’s 59kg category where the top 10 after five qualifying meets will progress to the Paris Summer Games next year.
“This will be my fourth qualifier, so I really need to focus and remove any distractions,” said Diaz-Naranjo, who trained in Bahrain for two weeks with husband-coach Julius Naranjo before coming over to Doha.
The country’s only Olympic gold medalist is not the only one who is closing in on an Olympic spot.
Former Asian champion Vanessa Sarno and Rosegie Ramos, Diaz-Naranjo’s protege, are both ranked ninth in the 49kg and 71kg, needing one more tournament after the grand prix to make it to the French capital.
Joining them is Cebuano John Febuar Ceniza, who is running sixth overall in the men’s 61kg class that could possibly give Team Philippines four Olympic qualifiers in weightlifting.
“We hope to do well in this tournament and I’m confident our lifters can maintain their rankings,” said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella.
The grand prix in Doha from December 4 to 14 will be crucial to the Olympic qualifying rankings in the men’s and women’s division where a total of 382 lifters from at least 72 countries are vying for a ticket bound for Paris.
Other Filipino lifters participating in the Doha meet are Southeast Asian Games silver medalist Lovely Inan (women’s 49kg Group B), Rose Jean Ramos, the younger sister of Rosegie (women’s 45kg) and Kristel Macrohon (women’s 71kg).
“We have a slim chance of getting a medal in Group B. They will play first so all the weightlifters in Group A will have a chance to adjust the next day,” said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas secretary general Patrick Lee.
Two more Olympic qualification meets have been scheduled—the Asian championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Feb. 20-26 and the IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand from April 2-11—before the window closes.
Diaz-Naranjo and Ceniza should stay within Olympic range after these tournaments along with Ramos and Sarno.