POC vows to lobby hard inclusion of women's weightlifting in Kuala Lumpur SEA Games
Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz stands to miss out seeing action for the country in next year's Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia. Jerome Ascano

THE Philippines is set to lose a possible outright gold medal in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games if host Malaysia insists on not including women’s weightlifting in its calendar of events.

As things stands, Filipina Hidilyn Diaz, silver medalist in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics, will not be competing in next year’s SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur since meet organizers had initially set just five men’s events in weightlifting.

But the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) said it will do its best to convince the Malaysian SEA Games organizers to reconsider its decision.

Through the years, the host country’s right to include and scrap events in the SEA Games has been a contentious issue, a move that is obviously aimed at increasing the gold medal total of the host.

POC SEA Games screening committee member Raymund Lee Reyes said the POC leadership led by president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco is already looking to lobby the inclusion of women’s weightlifting in  the 2017 biennial meet.

“We will coordinate soon with the chef de mission and with the POC. Sayang ang isang Hidilyn Diaz na medalya. Hindi po pababayaan ng POC ‘yan. They will try their best na masama ‘yan,” said Reyes.

Reyes is also confident the Philippine Weightlifting Federation will also be able to lobby for the inclusion of women’s weightlifting.

The POC and the PSC are set to meet with different national sports associations (NSAs) next week to discuss their plans and programs for the SEA Games, where events to be lobbied before the Malaysian organizers are also expected to be tackled.

Diaz, who captured the silver in the 53kg division of the Rio Games, is eyeing the gold in the 2020 Olympics, and the coming SEA Games is part of her initial build-up in ending the country’s quest for a first ever Olympic gold.

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