Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo’s pursuit of an Asiad medal culminated in a valiant fourth-place finish in the women’s 59kg weightlifting category at the Xiaoshan Sports Centre Gymnasium on Monday, October 2.
Diaz, on her Facebook posted, “I may have missed bringing a medal for the Philippines at the #AsianGames, but to represent our country means so much to me. The experience was priceless and the preparation for 3 weeks after my debut in a new weight class at the World Championships in Riyadh, for me, has improved.”
I was able to try to lift 100kg and 131kg, and though I didn’t hit it in Hangzhou, I’m still pleased of the outcome. I’m thankful for all the people who believe in me especially my team behind me, #TeamHD. They pushed me to my limits, and provided the motivation and assurance I needed to keep going.
In preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics bid, Diaz-Naranjo stepped up to a heavier weight class, hoisting a commendable total of 223 kilograms. Her performance was anchored by a 97 in the snatch and an impressive 126 in the clean and jerk.
“Ang lalakas nila pero masaya pa rin. And yes, at the end of the day, Paris 2024 pa rin ang pinaka-importante (They’re really strong, but I’m still happy. And yes, at the end of the day, Paris 2024 is still the most important),’’ said Diaz-Naranjo.
Diaz-Naranjo, the trailblazer who clinched the first-ever Olympic gold for the Philippines in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, is now eyeing a remarkable fifth consecutive appearance on the global stage. She needs just two more qualifying tournaments to solidify her spot.
North Korea’s Kim Ilgyon clinched the gold, obliterating records in a spectacular display of strength. The 20-year-old prodigy notched up 111kg in the snatch and a formidable 135kg in the clean and jerk, setting a new world and Asian standard, both in senior and junior ranks.
“So far, so good ang training ko sa 59(kgs). Nakita nyo naman nag-try ako ng 100 at 131. It’s my first time to try it, at ganoon na pala ako kalakas (So far, so good with my training in the 59(kgs) category. As you saw, I attempted 100 and 131. It’s my first time trying it, and I didn’t realize I was that strong),’’ said the 32-year-old Diaz-Naranjo.
“I’m getting close to the top 5 or 6, so it’s just a few kilograms more.’’
China’s Luo Shifang, who secured the Asian championship in May, settled for silver with a total of 240. She lifted 107 in the snatch and 126 in the clean and jerk.
Despite grappling with a painful knee injury, Hsing Chun Kuo of Chinese Taipei claimed the bronze with a total of 227.
The 32-year-old Filipino weightlifting icon is relentlessly pursuing a fifth consecutive Olympic appearance. Diaz-Naranjo has already completed three of the five necessary tournaments for her Paris journey, and she aims to cap it off with a pair of world cups in Doha, Qatar this December and in Thailand in February.