Hidilyn Diaz copped her first-ever gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games after ruling the women's 55kg weightlifting event.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV
Hidilyn Diaz on track to booking 2020 Olympics slot
Joey Villar (Philstar.com) - December 26, 2019 - 12:49pm

MANILA, Philippines – Olympic weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz is getting closer to claiming a spot to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The 28-year-old Diaz, fresh from claiming her very first gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games early this month, is currently ranked fifth in the International Weightlifting Federation rankings for the women’s 55kg division.

Technically, Diaz should be No. 2 since the top four are all Chinese, including 2019 IWF World Championship gold medalists Zhang Wanqiong and Liao Quiyun and each country can only field in one representative.

If she stays that way or keeps her spot in the top eight by May next year, she will qualify to the quadrennial summer games where she hopes to surpass her silver medal effort in Rio in 2016 and deliver the country’s first ever Olympic gold.

Diaz earned her current ranking after participating in four international competitions, including the Worlds last September in Pattaya, Thailand, where she snared a pair of bronzes.

She is eyeing to also finish strong in her last two Olympic qualifiers — the Rome World Championships next month and the IWF Asian Championships in Kazakhstan in April.

“To qualify to Tokyo, a lifter has to undergo six qualifying events all over the world of his own or her choice,” said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella. “The best four scores out of the six will then be consolidated and eventually, only the top eight will make it to Tokyo.”

So determined was Diaz to qualifying that she went back to training as early as Christmas day.

“There is no Christmas break for her (Diaz),” said Puentevella.

Diaz, however, is not the only Filipino lifter eyeing an Olympic slot as the SWP — with the help of the Philippine Sports Commission, Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation and Ayala Land — has invested on Nestor Colonia, Kristel Macrohon, Elreen Ando, Maryflor Diaz, John Ceniza and Jeffrey Garcia.

“They will join Hidilyn to the World and Asian Championships next year and hope to get Olympic spots,” said Puentevella.

To date, only one Filipino had qualified to the Olympics — pole vaulter EJ Obiena.

Diaz could be next.

HIDILYN DIAZ
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