By Amado Inigo
MANILA — Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz has on Sunday evening formally clinched a seat for the July Tokyo Olympics after finishing fourth in the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
The 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist finished but a kilogram shy off third-placer Muattar Nabieva of the host country. She finished with a total of 212 kilograms, two short of her personal best.
Diaz lifted 94kg in the snatch and 118kg in the clean and jerk even as Chinese Liao Qiuyun romped off with the gold medal with a 222kg finish, while compatriot Li Yajun ended up with a total of 221kg.
In the snatch, Diaz was not able to lift on her first try at 90kg but found the mark in her second attempt and cleanly lifted it on her third attempt 94kg.
Meanwhile, in the clean and jerk, Diaz cleared 118kg in her first attempt, failed the 121kg in her second attempt and so did the 122kg on her third and final attempt.
Nevertheless, it was mission accomplished for Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella.
“Let’s move on to the ultimate challenge. The Tokyo Olympics. Her mission tonight was not to win but to qualify. Congrats to Hidi and the whole RP lifters and our coaches,” Puentevella boomed.
Diaz, a native of Zamboanga, completed the International Weightlifting Federation’s requirement of competing in six Olympic qualifying events. She is fifth in the IWF’s rankings in the women’s 55-kilogram category, but since the top four lifters are all from China and only one competitor for each weight class is allowed per country, Diaz is ranked second in the Olympic rankings. The top eight lifters automatically qualify for Tokyo.
And thus Diaz became the seventh (7th) Filipino to make it to the Summer Games after pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxers Irish Magno, Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, and Carlo Paalam.
Diaz will also be participating in her fourth straight Olympiad, her first being in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
It had been over a year since Diaz last competed. She clinched three golds in the 2020 Weightlifting World Cup in Italy in late January 2020.
Other Filipinos who competed in Uzbekistan include 2020 IWF Online Youth World Cup gold medalist Vanessa Sarno, Roma World Cup podium finisher John Fabuar Ceniza, 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Kristel Macrohon, Elreen Ann Ando, Mary Flor Diaz, Margaret Colonia, and John Dexter Tabique, and Elien Rose Perez. (AI/MTVN)