Philippine weightlifting icon and 2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo is gearing up for another major competition, the Asian Weightlifting Championships scheduled from May 3-13 in Jiju City.
Diaz and her team are in the United States for a two-week training camp to continue her preparations before proceeding to South Korea for further training.
Diaz is no stranger to international competitions and has already competed in the first of five tournaments sanctioned by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), where she secured a total lift of 207kgs to win three gold medals in the 55-kilogram division at the 2022 World Weightlifting Championships in Bogota, Colombia.
However, the road to the 2024 Paris Olympics is a challenging one, and Diaz acknowledges the difficulty of qualifying, saying, “The ranking is very hard now, because only the top eight in the world [will qualify in the Paris Olympics].”
To make it to the 2024 Paris Olympics, Diaz must compete in five IWF-sanctioned meets, and given her impressive track record, it is no surprise that she is determined to qualify for her fifth consecutive Olympics.
Diaz’s achievements have not gone unnoticed, as she recently received her fourth Athlete of the Year award from the Philippines Sportswriters Association (PSA).
During her acceptance speech at the awards night held at Diamond Hotel in Manila, Diaz expressed in Filipino that she will strive to win the gold medal again in the upcoming Olympics next year.
“I hope that I’ll be able to return here next year for my fifth Athlete of the Year award. [I’m] manifesting for the Philippines,” she said.
Diaz is currently tied with boxing champion Nonito Donaire Jr. with four PSA Athlete of the Year awards and is just one trophy shy of matching bowling legend Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno and boxing great Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, who both have a record five PSA Athlete of the Year awards each.
During the annual event, Hidilyn Diaz took the opportunity to motivate her fellow high-achieving Filipino athletes and remind them of their purpose.
After a successful 2022, following her historic win at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics, Diaz advised her fellow athletes to stay focused and strive for their country’s pride and glory.
Addressing her fellow athletes, Diaz emphasized the importance of doing what they do for the love of their country and sports.
She encouraged them to keep fighting for their nation and continue to be a source of inspiration for the Filipino people.
A gold medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics would undoubtedly make Diaz the favorite to be named Athlete of the Year again in 2024.
Nevertheless, the road to the Olympics is arduous, and Diaz must continue to train hard to ensure that she is in top form for the upcoming Asian Weightlifting Championships and the qualifying meets for the Paris Olympics.
Despite the challenges, Diaz remains focused and determined, and her commitment to her sport and her country has made her a role model for aspiring athletes in the Philippines and around the world.