Hidilyn Diaz lifts Team Philippines to first gold
Hidilyn Diaz gives her coveted medal a big bite after delivering the first gold for Team Philippines in weightlifting in the 18th Asian Games.
Joey Mendoza
Hidilyn Diaz lifts Team Philippines to first gold
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2018 - 12:00am

JAKARTA – Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz lifted the spirits of a Philippine contingent lost in the thick of top-class competition by winning the gold medal in the same event that catapulted her to Olympic fame –  the 53Kg class in women’s weightlifting – in the Asian Games here yesterday.

Just as the country watched in frustration the exit of pretty Pauline Loise Lopez in the -57 kg class in taekwondo to settle for the third bronze in the sport and watched in awe as Jordan Clarkson gave a tantalizing display of his basketball power only to collapse in the end and see the Philippines lose to China in basketball, Diaz provided the sparkle.

She was running second to Kristina Shermetova of Turkmenistan, 92-91, in the snatch  but swept her way to the top with a winning lift of 115 kg in the clean and jerk to win the gold by the skin of her teeth, 207- 206.

“I’m overjoyed by Hidilyn’s victory. I was entering a meeting with some ASEAN sports leaders when I got the news and I needed a few moments to compose myself before I went in,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas.

“I was overcome by emotion. I just saw her yesterday (Monday) at the Athletes Village and she was so calm. Mabuhay ka, Hidilyn. You made the country proud again. You are an inspiration to your fellow athletes who will surely want to emulate you. Galing!”

The golden victory revived memories of 2014 when the then  25-year-old lass from Zamboanga won the silver when the front runner from China won the snatch but failed to complete any of her three attempts in the clean and jerk, paving the way for Diaz to win the silver instead of the bronze.

Her lift of 115kg in the clean and jerk was an improvement over the 112 kg she did on her second attempt in Rio, raising golden hopes for the Filipina in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The gold medal gave the Philipopine a medal haul of 1-0-4 gold-silver-bronze for 14th place behind  front running China (27-17-12).

Lopez, 22, produced a fourth bronze medal for the Philippines as she struggled to find the range against tall Chinese rival Luo Zongshi and dropped a 4-11 loss in their semifinal showdown in the -57 kg class in women’s taekwondo.

The 5-foot-6 US-born jin was utterly dominant in her first two matches, overwhelming Macao’s Xiao Feng, 8-0, then overpowering Nepal’s Gyari Chunara, 20-0.

But she then faced the tall, rangy and skillful Chinese, and failed to get her game going, unable to find the mark even as she became more aggressive in the last two rounds.

Nonetheless, Lopez was happy to improve on her quarterfinals finish in Guangzhou and to add a fourth bronze in Team Phl’s collection of medals in the Jakarta meet.

“I’d loved to be in the finals but I’m happy with my finish. I had strong mental training (for the games), I was really eyeing a medal of whatever color,” said Lopez, who turned 22 just four days ago.

Two other Phl jins failed to deliver as Kristopher Robert Uy also bowed to a Chinese rival in Sun Hongyi, 7-9 in Round of 16 of +80kg men while Kirstie Elaine Alora dropped a close 7-8 defeat to Kazakhstan’s Cansel Deniz, 7-8, in the opening round in women’s +67 kg.

Many other Filipino athletes set out for battle and returned to their quarters with a sad tale to tell.

In Palembang, Ariana Thea Patrice Dormitorio was among the pacesetters when she crashed in Lap 2 of the five-lap Women’s Cross Country in Mountain Bike and failed to finish.

“I was disappointed. Luck was not with me today,” said Dormitorio whose No. 100 ranking in the UCI made her the favorite in the race.

She was first out of the start line but was gobbled up by Chinese riders and eventual 1-2 finishers Yao Bianwa and Li Hongfeng as they wound up Lap 1.

Then came the crash that could well be the signal of her last stint with the Phl national team.

Donjie Dormitorio, father of Ariana, issued a statement moment after the race, saying he wanted his daughter out of the team, ruing their lack of support from the national cycling federation. He said they would make their resignation formal upon their return to Manila.

ASIAN GAMES GOLD MEDAL HIDILYN DIAZ WEIGHTLIFTING
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