Philippines Olympics gold winner Diaz to keep lifting as Paris dream ends

By AFP   April 3, 2024 | 10:13 pm PT
Philippines Olympics gold winner Diaz to keep lifting as Paris dream ends
Philippines' Hidilyn Diaz competes in the women's 55kg weightlifting event during the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Hanoi on May 20, 2022. Photo by AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy
Hidilyn Diaz, the first and only Olympic gold medallist from the Philippines, vowed Thursday to continue in weightlifting just hours after failing to qualify for a fifth consecutive Games.

Diaz, 33, was beaten in the IWF World Cup 59kg class in Thailand late Wednesday by 25-year-old compatriot Elreen Ando, who secured a Paris weightlifting berth for the Philippines after finishing seventh with a total of 228kg.

Only one athlete per country can qualify in any weight division and Diaz, who won gold at Tokyo in the now-scrapped 55kg division, finished 11th on 222kg after failing with her final two clean-and-jerk attempts to match Ando's total.

Diaz has lifted at every Olympics since Beijing in 2008 but will be 37 when the Los Angeles Games take place in 2028.

"I will still lift, but I'm not sure for the next Olympics," Diaz told AFP via Facebook messenger.

"Right now, I have to enjoy the moment.

"I will pursue what I have started, training and serving our athletes in the future," she said, revealing she would open her own sports academy soon.

Diaz has struggled since stepping up to the heavier 59kg class where she faces naturally bigger athletes -- Ando competed in the 64kg class in Tokyo.

The event, the final Olympic weightlifting qualifier, was won by China's Luo Shifang with a new world record of 248kg, a massive 24kg more than Diaz hoisted to win Olympic gold three years ago.

"To my followers and supporters -- many thanks!" wrote Diaz.

"Our initiative of giving inspiration to our youth and Filipinos in sports will go up to the next level," she added.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino told AFP it was "unfortunate that Diaz missed the record of having five consecutive appearances in Olympics."

Both Diaz and Ando were "not in their natural weight class," he said, adding Diaz's training for the Phuket qualifiers had been hampered by an injury, without giving details.

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