SEA Games

Hidilyn Diaz kicks off Paris Olympics bid with rousing SEA Games title defense

Delfin Dioquino
Hidilyn Diaz kicks off Paris Olympics bid with rousing SEA Games title defense

ANOTHER ONE. Hidilyn Diaz adds another SEA Games gold to her collection of precious hardware.

Chalinee Thirasupa/Reuters

Gunning for a fifth straight Olympic appearance, weightlifting star Hidilyn Diaz retains her SEA Games gold by ruling the women's 55kg event

MANILA, Philippines – Hidilyn Diaz hit the ground running for her 2024 Paris Olympics qualification bid after defending her Southeast Asian Games gold in Vietnam with another rousing performance on Friday, May 20.

Diaz lifted 92kg in snatch and 114kg in clean and jerk for total of 206kg as she bested fellow Olympic weightlifting champion Sanikun Tanasan of Thailand for the women’s 55kg gold.

“My journey towards Paris starts here, so this SEA Games gold is very important for me,” said Diaz, who won the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold in the Tokyo Games last year.

“This is very meaningful to me. After winning the gold medal [in the Olympics], I still returned and delivered another gold medal for the Philippines,” she added in a mix of Filipino and English.”

“I’m happy that I’m here in the SEA Games to represent the Philippines again.”

Diaz faced a stiff challenge from Tanasan – the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics women’s 48kg titlist – early on.

The Zamboangeña shattered her own SEA Games record in snatch with a 92kg clearance, only to witness Tanasan immediately erase that mark with a 93kg lift to take the pole position.

But just like in the Tokyo Games where Diaz went toe-to-toe with world record holder Liao Qiuyun of China in a tense mano a mano for the gold, the 31-year-old showed her mettle in the clean and jerk.

Diaz cleared 114kg on her first clean and jerk attempt to seize the lead as Tanasan settled for 110kg for a total lift of 203kg after the Thai bungled her final try at 114kg.

“We studied our opponent, we know she is strong in the snatch, but not so much in the clean and jerk,” Diaz said. “But of course, we cannot downplay the competition. I always do my best.”

Accompanying Diaz in Vietnam is her Team HD composed of coach Julius Naranjo, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro, and sports psychologist Karen Trinidad, who had no doubts that the Filipina will retain her SEA Games gold.

“The clean and jerk is where she really stands out,” said Trinidad.

Gunning for a fifth straight Olympic appearance, Diaz also plans to compete in the World Weightlifting Championships later this year. – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.