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Hidilyn goes for second âlift of faithâ
Hidilyn Diaz
STAR/File

Hidilyn goes for second ‘lift of faith’

Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - April 20, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz will hope and pray for another “lift of faith” when she aims for the country’s first Olympic gold in Tokyo in July.

Standing in the way of the 30-year-old silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics is a slew of world-class rivals that include reigning world champion Liao Quiyun of China.

Liao ruled the women’s 55 kg class in the Asian Championships last Sunday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where the Philippine pride formalized her entry to the Tokyo Games.

It will be the fourth straight Olympics for Diaz, who ended a 20-year medal drought for the Philippines in the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“We are continuously supporting her (Diaz) in her journey to the Olympics, as she joins the roster of Filipino athletes who will be representing the country in this much-awaited sporting event,” said Smart Communications president and CEO and PLDT chief revenue officer Al Panlilio.

So far, six other Filipino athletes are assured of tickets to Tokyo, each one armed with a strong chance of winning the elusive gold medal.

The 25-year-old Liao edged compatriot and former world titlist Li Yajun by the skin of her teeth, 222-221, to take the gold in Tashkent and the right to represent powerhouse China in the Summer Games set July 23 to Aug. 8.

Hometown bet Muattar Nabieva snatched the bronze with a 213 while Diaz settled for fourth place with a 212.

“Now we know it’s China again -- only one lifter,” said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella. “We’re on track, and barring all obstacles, we’re looking at another medal.”

In a twist of fate, Diaz took the silver in Rio when all she expected was a bronze after Li, the silver medalist in Tashkent, failed on her world record bid that cost the latter the gold.

“Three months to go. We now know our strength and weaknesses. Let God do the rest. Para sa bayan ito. Let’s go for it,” said Puentevalla.

HIDILYN DIAZ
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