ON the heels of Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal in the last Tokyo Olympics, four young female lifters are being groomed as her heirs apparent heading to the Paris edition of the quadrennial meet in 2024.
“So now in three years’ time, I am praying and predicting that we will already have a medal in Paris since we have four girls waiting in the wings,” Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella said on Tuesday during the virtual session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
Puentevella named Elreen Ann Ando, who made her Olympic debut in Tokyo, Vanessa Sarno, Kristel Macrohon, and Rosegie Ramos in the session supported by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Ando finished at seventh place among 12 entries in the women’s 64-kilogram division in Tokyo.
“Si Ando nakapasok na siya sa mata ng karayom. Gusto kong dumaan siya kagaya ng iyak noon ni Hidylin (sa 2012 London Olympics),” Puentevella said
“Vanessa Sarno is now the Asian champion at 17 and is turning 18,” he said of the Boholana sensation, who won two golds and a silver medal in the 71-kilogram division at the Asian weightlifting championship last April in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“Nandiyan din si Kristel Macrohon. Baka magbago yong attitude niya (pagkatapos mag-medal si Hidilyn),” added Puentevella of the 2019 SEA Games gold medalist in the women’s 76-kg. category, who also won two bronze medals in the Asian meet.
Ramos, 16, is a Zamboanga City native and protégé of Diaz at her own gym near her home in Barangay Mampang, according to the weightlifting head.
Puentevella's confidence in the rising stars doesn't he's ruling out an unprecedented fifth straight Olympic appearance by Diaz, who will be 33 by the time the Paris Olympics comes around.
“Kung talagang kaya ng katawan ni Hidy sa Paris, she will be 33 at that time, puwede siyang mag-medalya muli, pero mag-sasakripisyo siya,” he said. “But if she retires, she will be our national women’s coach for sure. No one can compare with her and she will teach the four young lifters that are coming up.”
He urged Ando, Sarno, Macrohon, and Ramos to follow the model set by the four-time Olympic veteran in terms of the sacrifice, discipline, and dedication she put in to end the country’s 97-year-old dry spell in the quadrennial sports festival.
“Dapat gayahin nila si Hidy who had no holidays, no Christmas, no New Year, no birthday celebrations while she was Kuala Lumpur in training for the Tokyo Olympics,” Puentevella said.
With Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen set to return to Beijing and unlikely to come back full-time, Puentevella said Diaz and her Guamanian fitness and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo plan to return in the third week of September to Malaysia to resume training.
“As the Olympic champion, Hidy wants to prepare hard for the world championships in Lima, Peru in November so she is going back with Julius to Malaysia in the third week of September to resume training” he said.
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