LONDON — Weighlifter Hidilyn Diaz strode into the dining hall with a smile on her face and the looks of one ready to embrace the huge challenge ahead as she makes her second foray into the world’s biggest sports gathering a few days from now.
Over a late lunch with coach Tony Agustin and two Team Philippines officials, Diaz talked lengthily of her experience in the three-week training camp leading to the 30th Olympic Games as well as the gains which she hopes will do her good when the battles begin.
According to Diaz, the camp gave her the chance to adjust to the typical London blend of rain and sunshine as well as the environment, things which brought her worries deep in training camp.
Those worries are no more, Hidilyn said.
"Adjusted na po ako ngayon (to the weather and environment). Maganda na feeling at bumalik na ang lakas ko,” said Diaz as Agustin, chief of mission Manny Lopez and administrative officer Arsenic Lacson listened.
"Imagine kung ngayon ka lang darating. Mahihirapan ka sa klase ng weather,” added Diaz, who saw action in the 2008 Beijing Games as a young girl of 17.
She’s 21 now, someone who’s not easily frightened anymore by the enormity of the challenge.
‘’Okay lang. Anong malay natin. Sa tagal ko na po naglalaro, hindi na ako takot sa laban,’’ she said.
Hidilyn, the country’s first female flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies this Friday, wrapped up another long training still overweight by one kilo but her coach said here’s nothing to worry about.
‘’Madali lang tanggalin yun. No problem. Matagal pa naman ang competition niya,” said Agustin, a many-time national player who’s now into his ninth year as coach of Hidilyn.
Her best effort since coming over at the Athletes Village early last week was 84 kilos in the snatch and 107 kilos in the clean and jerk, still off her personal high of 219 kgs which she set in a triumphant campaign in the Philippine National Games three months ago in Dumaguete City.
The duo said doing that personal best will not be a problem. In fact, they submitted to the organizers a target of 225 kgs, which sent her competing in Group A where podium finishers will likely emerge.
But based on the projected lifts submitted by her rivals, Hidilyn, ranked ninth in the world, is in for another tough stint in the 58-kgs division.
Bulgaria’s Nastassia Novikava will target 240 kgs, which is a lot better than the 225 of Hidilyn and five others.
Familiar foes in the Asian scene will also be around in Group A, like Taipei’s Kuo Hsing-choo, Thailand’s Pimsiri Sirikaew and North Korea’s Chun Mi Jang whom she competed against during the Asian championship last year in Pyeongtaek, South Korea where she placed fourth with a 117 total.
One of seven children of a a tricyle driver in a poor coastal village in Zamboanga City, Diaz competed in the same division in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and wound up 11th in a field of 12 with a 192kg total.