MANILA, Philippines – As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics nears, the MVP Sports Foundation has solidified its support for Hidilyn Diaz so she can focus on her training and bring pride to the country on the grandest stage in sports.
Diaz, the country's only female Olympic medalist, has proven to be a consistent force in the international weightlifting scene. After winning the silver in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, she grabbed the gold in the 2018 Asian Games and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Diaz also bagged two bronzes at the 2019 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships last September 2019 in Pattaya, Thailand, which is considered a gold standard Olympic qualifier.
The Filipina is currently ranked 5th in the world behind four lifters who all hail from China. Given that a country can only send one athlete per weight division in the Olympics, however, this would bump Diaz to No. 2 in the rankings.
Diaz will be participating in the IWF World Cup in Italy on January 25 to February 1, and the IWF Asian Championships in Kazakhstan on April 16 to 25. These are the last two mandatory Olympic qualifiers, and Diaz is hopeful that she can maintain or even improve her ranking.
In preparation for all these tournaments – including the 2020 Olympics – Diaz is set to completely immerse herself in extensive training in Taiwan and Japan.
To put herself in the best position to succeed, Diaz has a core team of decorated sports science personnel who travel with her to all trainings and competitions. The core team consists of head coach Kaiwen Gao, assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, sports nutrition coach Jeaneth Aro, sports psychologist Karen Trinidad, and sports masseuse Belen Bañas.
Diaz admits that her preparations are costly, but she and her team insist this is the path that leads to success, having seen firsthand how athletes at the top level in the world train and sustain their performances in international competitions.
Diaz continues to be grateful to those who have supported her, from both the government and the private sector – including Manny V. Pangilinan through the MVPSF.
"Thank you for supporting me and my journey towards Tokyo 2020. Thank you for believing and trusting in me and my core team," Diaz said in a personal message to the foundation, whose goal is to bring the country its first ever Olympic gold medal.
With MVPSF seeing Diaz as a testament to the Philippines' success in weightlifting, the foundation has pledged to extend its support to Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas, the sports' national governing body, led by its president Monico Puentevella.
"MVPSF will continue to support and believe in the Filipino athlete. We recognize Hidilyn as a history-making Filipino athlete, and we hope that she, as an example, will inspire other athletes to strive hard to match or even surpass the level she has gotten to," said MVPSF president Al Panlilio.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.