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MANILA, Philippines – Qualifying for the 2024 Paris Games is the priority for Olympic weightlifting champion Hidilyn Diaz.
Diaz will skip the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia as she continues her quest to reach a fifth straight Olympics by joining the Asian Weightlifting Championships.
The continental championships – one of the qualifying events for Paris – will be held in Jinju, Korea from May 5 to 13, just before the SEA Games weightlifting competitions take place from May 13 to 16.
While younger lifters like Vanessa Sarno and Elreen Ando will be doing double duty as they participate in both the SEA Games and Asian Championships, the 32-year-old Diaz said she needs ample time to rest and recover in between tournaments for optimal performance.
“Based on my experience, weightlifters have a hard time going back to action a week after a competition,” said Diaz in a mix of Filipino and English in a recent media event.
“That does not work for me, my body, and my recovery.”
Diaz won back-to-back gold medals at the 55kg division in the last two editions of the SEA Games hosted by the Philippines and Vietnam.
But the Zamboangueña passed up the chance to capture a third straight SEA Games crown as she focuses on moving up to 59kg, with Paris organizers scrapping the 55kg class she ruled to win the breakthrough gold in the Tokyo Games.
Diaz said she is also skipping the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in September.
“I hope the people and my supporters understand that I will not compete in the SEA Games and Asian Games because the goal is Paris 2024,” said Diaz.
The national team, though, is in good hands for the SEA Games.
Sarno looks to replicate her rousing campaign in Vietnam last year as she struck gold in the 71kg category in record-breaking fashion, setting the SEA Games mark in snatch (104kg), clean and jerk (135kg), and total lift (239kg).
Meanwhile, Ando is determined to end her hunt for the elusive gold after settling for silver in the 64kg class in the last two SEA Games. – Rappler.com