TOKYO Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz thinks the Philippine weightlifting team seeing action in next month’s Phnom Penh Southeast Asian Games can get the job done despite her absence.
“I can’t predict how many medals, but one thing I know, all Filipino lifters did their best in training and I know they can deliver and all can win a medal in the SEA Games,” said Ms. Diaz during the online presser hosted by Summit Natural Drinking Water.
Ms. Diaz has skipped the biennial meet slated May 5 to 17 in the Cambodian capital to focus on qualifying to next year’s Paris Games where she hopes to replicate her golden performance in the Tokyo Games.
This leaves Vanessa Sarno, tipped as Ms. Diaz’s heiress to the latter’s throne as the country’s queen of the sport to carry the fight for the country seeking glory in Phnom Penh.
The 19-year-old wonder teener from Tagbilaran in Bohol will try to strike gold again in the women’s 71-kilogram division where she reigned supreme in last year’s Hanoi Games.
There, she lifted 239 kg—104 kg in snatch and 135 kg in clean and jerk — to claim her first gold in the regional meet.
Ms. Sarno said she is inspired by no less than Ms. Diaz herself.
Mmess. Diaz and Sarno were two of the star athletes who graced the Summit briefer that was also attended by World Championship pole vault bronze winner EJ Obiena and football’s Kiara Fontanilla.
For Mr. Obiena, his focus is nothing less than the gold in Phnom Penh.
“I will do my best to make the country proud,” said Mr. Obiena, who is currently in Europe training.
For Ms, Fontanilla, the Filipinas are eyeing to eclipse its historic bronze finish in Hanoi.“We’re hoping to improve on our bronze last time,” she said. — Joey Villar