Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo, the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medalist, finished fourth in the 59kg division of the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Jinju, South Korea on Sunday, May 7, 2023.
While she failed to get a podium finish, Diaz-Naranjo’s performance was a promising start in her campaign for a second Olympic gold medal in the Paris 2024 Games.
China’s Luo Shifang clinched the gold medal with a total lift of 238kg, followed by her compatriot Pei Xinyi with 236kg and Chinese Taipei’s Kuo Hsing-Chun with 230kg, who settled for silver and bronze, respectively.
Diaz-Naranjo, who shifted to the 59kg division from the 55kg division, lifted a total of 221kg, composed of 102kg in snatch, and successful lifts of 118kg and 122kg in clean and jerk. Her final attempt to make 125kg fell short, but she remained on track for the Paris Games.
The fourth-place finish in the Asian Weightlifting Championships was Diaz-Naranjo’s first appearance in the tournament since 2021 when she also finished fourth in the 55kg division, which served as part of her preparations for her historic gold medal feat in the Tokyo Olympics.
On her Facebook, Diaz-Naranjo said: “For the first time, I competed in the 59kg category at the Asian Weightlifting Championship 2023 in Jinju, Korea. (The) first competition for a new weight category and a new beginning. Yes, I am happy with the result as it brings me closer to my ultimate goal of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics.”
“I am deeply grateful to God for my success, and I also recognize that I couldn’t have achieved it without the unwavering support of my dedicated team, #TeamHD, and the assistance of PSC, AFP, PAF, SWP, MVPSF,” she added. “There are 3 to 4 more Olympic Qualification events to qualify for Paris 2024, we are almost there and we know that there’s still a lot of room for improvement in our training and preparation. My team and I are determined to work hard towards our goal for Paris 2024.”
She thanked those who continue to support the Filipino athletes and congratulated her teammates who participated and won medals in the Asian Championships. “Good job to us!” she wrote.
Although Diaz-Naranjo fell short of her medal target in the Asian tilt, she will need to focus on the gold and silver standards of 238kg and 236kg set by her Chinese rivals in her quest for a second Olympic gold medal.
In contrast, her fellow Filipino weightlifter, Rose Jean Ramos, captured silver in the 45kg division with a total lift of 161kg. She fell behind Thailand’s Chayuttra Pramongkhol, who lifted 177kg, to settle for second place.
Diaz-Naranjo’s participation in the Asian Weightlifting Championships is part of her preparations for the World Weightlifting Championships, which will also serve as the Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualifier. Weightlifters in all weight divisions will need to finish inside the top eight to automatically qualify for the Paris Olympics.
Diaz-Naranjo’s division, the 55kg, was scrapped for the Paris Games, forcing her to shift to a heavier weight division. The weightlifter from Zamboanga City remains undeterred in her quest for another Olympic gold medal and will continue to train with the target of achieving the gold and silver standards set by her rivals in the Asian tilt.
While Diaz-Naranjo’s fourth-place finish was not what she hoped for, it is a promising start to her journey to the Paris Games. With her determination, talent, and experience, she remains a strong contender to capture another gold medal for the Philippines in the future.