For a sport that produced the Philippines its first Olympic gold medal, Hidilyn Diaz feels weightlifting deserves a place in two of the most prominent collegiate leagues in the country.
Diaz, who ended the Philippines’ near century-long quest for Olympic glory, batted for the inclusion of weightlifting in the UAAP and NCAA as she continues to push for a bigger exposure of the sport.
It is not just in collegiate leagues where Diaz wants to see weightlifting but in the grassroots level as well, particularly in the Palarong Pambansa.
“My advocacy is weightlifting,” Diaz told Rappler Plus members in Filipino.
“I hope that weightlifting will be included in the Palarong Pambansa. I hope that weightlifting will be included in the UAAP, NCAA. All the other sports.”
As she pursued weightlifting at a young age, Diaz saw the sport pave the way for her to compete internationally and secure a scholarship at the Universidad de Zamboanga.
Then just 17 years old, the Zamboangueña debuted in the Olympics in the 2008 Beijing Games, showing a lot of promise as she finished at 10th place out of 12 competitors in the women’s 58kg class.
Her Olympic exploits – a silver in Rio de Janeiro and a gold in Tokyo – have inspired a new generation of Filipino weightlifters.
One of them is Cebuana Elreen Ando, who also saw action in Tokyo as she qualified for the Olympics through her continental ranking.
The 22-year-old Ando finished the women’s 64kg event at seventh place, but eclipsed all of her personal bests in snatch, clean and jerk, and total lift.
Other young weightlifters are on the rise as well, most notably Boholano Vanessa Sarno.
The 17-year-old Sarno has already turned heads after bagging the gold medal in the women’s 71kg division in the Asian Weightlifting Championship last year.
Diaz said having the sport in the Palarong Pambansa, UAAP, and NCAA will open doors to a brighter future for young weightlifters.
“The youth will be given an opportunity to finish school via weightlifting, Diaz said. – Rappler.com