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    Hidilyn's Chinese coach Gao going home after gold medal run

    Aug 1, 2021

    TOKYO - Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen is heading home next month after helping guide Hidilyn Diaz to the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal, the head of the national weightlifting association said on Sunday.

    Monico Fuentevella, president of the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP), said the well-liked Coach Gao bared his desire to leave in a zoom meeting while he, Hidilyn and the rest of her team are on hotel quarantine.

    "We want him to stay, but he wants to go back home to his family (in China)," said Fuentevella. "He hasn't seen his family in two years."

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    According to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Gao has a contract that runs until the end of the year. But Fuentevella said the famed Chinese coach has asked to be allowed to leave without fulfilling the full length of the contract.

    Coach Gao asked that he be paid only until August and plans to leave next month, the longtime SWP head added.

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    The development will leave Diaz's camp without one of its key figures in the three-year preparation that culminated with the Zamboanga-born lifter winning the 55-kilogram division gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.

    Missing his family

    Coach Gao is credited with guiding two Chinese lifters to Olympic victories before joining the camp of Hidilyn, who beat another Chinese world champion and record holder in Liao Qiuyun in the 55kg finals.

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    "I tried to talk him out of it, but he misses his family. He plans to leave in September," said Fuentevella.

    According to Fuentevella, Coach Gao's departure will leave the coaching reins to strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo until a decision is made on the matter. Naranjo is also in a romantic relationship with Diaz.

    "I'll play it by ear. But I will also discuss this with the chairman," said Fuentevella, referring to PSC head Butch Ramirez which has been paying Coach Gao's salary.

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      "I need to look for new coach, but at this time this is what they want."

      Fuentevella bared the 30-year olf Diaz plans to resume training in Malaysia as soon as possible to prepare for the World Championship and the Southeast Asian Games.

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