Hidilyn’s dilemma in Phuket

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
Hidilyn�s dilemma in Phuket
Hidilyn Diaz.
STAR / File

(Updated April 27, 6:19 p.m.) 
In attempting to qualify for her fifth Olympics, the Philippines’ one and only Summer Games gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz was faced with the dilemma of bringing down her weight to 49kg or moving up to 59kg because of the realignment of weightlifting divisions for Paris.  She struck gold in the 55kg ranks at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but as the women categories were cut from seven to five, Paris organizers reclassified weights.

Paris Olympic 59kg qualifier Elreen Ando of Cebu said the reduction posed a challenge to lifters who had to adjust to new divisions.  Both Ando and Diaz were affected.  “No choice,” said Ando.  “Kailangan kami mag-adjust.  Nagbawas ako ng timbang at si Hidi naman nagdagdag.”  Ando’s drop was reminiscent of Diaz’ own history.  Diaz failed to medal in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics at 58kg, bagged a silver at 53kg in 2016 and gold at 55kg in Tokyo.  Ando collected silvers in the 2019 and 2021 SEA Games at 64kg then hit paydirt last year at 59kg.

Ando and Diaz battled for the last Olympic 59kg slot in the Phuket qualifiers early this month. Ando, 25, hoisted a total of 228kg while Diaz, 33, lifted 222kg.  Ando dropped down from 64kg where she finished seventh in her Olympic debut in Tokyo.  In contrast, Diaz went up from 55kg.  In Tokyo, there were seven divisions in women’s weightlifting----49kg, 55kg, 59kg, 64kg, 76kg, 87kg and +87kg.  In Paris, there will be only five----49kg, 59kg, 71kg, 81kg and +81kg. 

Diaz’ former elite performance nutritionist coach Jeaneth Aro, now working with Ando, said, “After Tokyo, Hidi had two options----go down to 49kg by losing eight to nine kilograms from her walking weight of 57-58kg or gain two to three kilograms of muscle mass which is an interplay between her nutrition, training regimen and mental resilience.  Given her overall situation and her busy schedule after winning in Tokyo, it was decided to move up in weight. Gaining muscle mass was a challenge.”

Ando’s lift in Phuket would’ve earned a silver at 59kg in Tokyo where Chinese-Taipei’s Kuo Hsing-chun pocketed the gold with a hoist of 236kg.  Turkmenistan’s Polina Guryeva bagged the silver with a total of 217kg.  Kuo will be back in Paris to defend her crown.  So far, 11 of the 12 competitors in Ando’s division have been named with the final slot reserved for the host country or a universality place.  Aside from Kuo and Ando, the qualifiers are China’s Luo Shifang, Ukraine’s Kamila Konotop, Canada’s Maude Charron, Colombia’s Yenny Alvarez, Venezuela’s Anyelin Venegas, Nigeria’s Rafiatu Lawal, France’s Dora Tchakounte, Mexico’s Janeth Gomez and Marshall Islands’ Mattie Sasser.

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