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Young lifters gear up for Asiad, Olympic elims

MANILA, Philippines — Hoping to pick up momentum from Hidilyn Diaz’s feats, the Philippine Weightlifting Association looks to start exposing its younger bets to world-class training to give them a fighting chance at the Asian Games and possibly the Olympic qualifiers.

“We’re preparing now for the Asian Games by sending six young girls and five boys for training in China, the world’s foremost weightlifting capital,” PWA president Monico Puentevella told The STAR.

“With support from the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission), they’ll train there probably for three months. And whoever excels there will hopefully make it to the Tokyo Olympics 2020,” he added.

Diaz herself had trained in China before, including the buildup phase for the 2016 Olympiad.

The pride of Zamboanga won a silver medal in the Olympics, duplicating Onyok Velasco’s feat in boxing from way back 1996.

Diaz’s 2016 success carried over to last year as she pocketed a silver and a bronze at the 2017 world championships in Los Angeles plus a runner-up finish in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

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It wasn’t all Diaz, though, Puentevella pointed out. He cited the achievements of Kristel Macrohon (bronze) at the AIMAG and Elien Rose Perez (three golds), Elreen Ann Ando (one silver, two bronzes), and Dessa delos Santos (three bronzes) at the Asian Senior Cup.

On the grassroots side, the PWA is rejoicing the inclusion of the sport in the Palarong Pambansa.

“We’re happy that our sport will now be included in the Palaro high school division, at long last. Next target will be elementary division,” Puentevella said.

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