Hidilyn skips Tashkent world tilt

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Hidilyn skips Tashkent world tilt
Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz competes in the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021.

MANILA, Philippines — Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz has decided not to compete at the World Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Dec. 7-17, declaring she won’t be ready to be at peak form in five weeks after arriving at her training center in Malacca last weekend.

“I know a lot of Olympians aren’t joining,” said Diaz in an interview on PlayItRightTV to premier via YouTube and Facebook this Sunday. “I prefer to compete against the best. I’ve been training only three or four times a week lately. I don’t think I’ll be able to sustain my performance in Tokyo. I’m told many of the Olympians are still recovering and enjoying their rest after training for so long.”

A priority in Diaz’ schedule is finishing her thesis for a Business Administration degree at the College of St. Benilde. She said only four or five terms are left before earning her diploma. Her management team is also busy sorting out various endorsement offers. Diaz has signed endorsement deals with giants like Smart, Belo, Summit Water, Swatch, Jollibee and San Mig Coffee in which she appears with coach/fiancé Julius Naranjo. In choosing which products to pitch, Diaz said, “dapat swak sa values ko as an athlete at person, also dapat maganda ang principles ng company.”

Where she will base herself isn’t an immediate priority at the moment. Her Olympic incentives include homes in Tagaytay, Batulao and Zamboanga and a condo in Eastwood. A possibility is Tagaytay where POC president Cong. Bambol Tolentino is building a training facility with weightlifting a key component.

Regarding Tolentino’s invitation to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics, Diaz said she’s not closing the door on a fifth campaign. She took silver in her third Olympics and gold in her fourth. If she performs in Paris, Diaz will tie shooter Martin Gison for most Olympic appearances by a Filipino. If she makes it to the 2028 Los Angeles Games, Diaz will set the record as the only Filipino athlete to perform in six Olympics. For now, Diaz is committed to compete only in the SEA Games in May and Asian Games in September.

Naranjo recently proposed to Diaz with an engagement gold ring displaying a barbell and a 0.5 carat diamond. “I didn’t expect it,” said Diaz. Naranjo said he conceptualized the design which was executed by the Manila Diamond Studio. Diaz and Naranjo are in Malaysia, moving from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur and back, to restart training until just before the Christmas holidays when they return home. Then, they intend to resume training in Malacca in March for the SEA Games.

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