Hidilyn Diaz lets it all out in last stretch of Paris Olympics prep
WEIGHTLIFTING

Hidilyn Diaz lets it all out in last stretch of Paris Olympics prep

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 04:10 AM January 30, 2024

Philippines' Hidilyn Diaz competes in the women's 55kg weightlifting event during the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Hanoi on May 20, 2022. (Photo by Tang Chhin Sothy and TANG CHHIN SOTHY / AFP)

Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz  (Photo by Tang Chhin Sothy and TANG CHHIN SOTHY / AFP)

Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo is bracing for the final stretch of her journey to reach Paris and see action in a fifth straight Olympic Games later this year.

The Tokyo Olympics weightlifting gold medalist seems unshakable in the top 10 of the women’s 59-kilogram category, but Diaz-Naranjo isn’t the kind who loosens up with one tournament left in her five-meet Olympic qualification series.

“I cannot say that I’m already immovable at [the] No. 7 [spot]. Several athletes are still in contention with the continental competitions coming up,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo, who went up to the 59-kg class after the 55-kg—which she dominated in Tokyo—got scrubbed for Paris.

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She’s dead-set in cementing a record appearance in the Olympics when she sees action in the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup on April 2 to April 11 in Phuket, Thailand.

“This will be my last tournament before the final Olympic rankings are released. It’s a compulsory event. We will know the list of qualified athletes by the end of May,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo, who will train in her gym in Jala-Jala, Rizal, prior to the Phuket meet.

The top 10 lifters in her class will travel to the glamorous French capital along with two more spots to be determined by the IWF, including a universality slot.

“It was really difficult when I began working on my weight last year. Now, I have gained more strength,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo, seeking to become the only Filipino with three Olympic medals.

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In elite company

The 32-year-old from Zamboanga City also has a silver medal from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Diaz-Naranjo belongs to an elite club with swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso, who brought home two bronze medals in the 1928 and 1932 Summer Games, as the only Filipino Olympians with two medals in the quadrennial global meet.

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READ: Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo moves training away from distractions

Prior to the Phuket World Cup, five continental qualifiers, including one in Asia to be hosted by Uzbekistan, are scheduled Feb. 2 to Feb. 25, which could possibly stir up the rankings in the weight category of Diaz-Naranjo.

“Nothing’s certain until the IWF releases the list of qualified athletes,’’ she said.

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Once Diaz-Naranjo makes it, there’s an ample amount of roadblocks to the podium standing on her way with world champion Luo Shifang of China, Ukraine’s Kamila Konotop, Chinese Taipei’s Kuo Hsing-chun and Asian Games champion Kim II-gyong of North Korea, among them.

TAGS: Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo, Sports, Weightlifting

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