MANILA — Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz has decided to focus her energy on other tournaments now that host Malaysia has scrapped women’s weightlifting from the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Diaz, the first Filipino to win an Olympic medal in 20 years, said she will prepare for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games and the World Weightlifting Championships this year, and the 2018 Asian Games.
The 25-year-old already resumed training even as she juggles her time between college and her duties at the Philippine Airforce.
“Nag-move on na ako sa SEA Games kasi wala namang weightlifting doon,” she said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at Golden Phoenix Hotel in Pasay City.
“Back to training na ako ulit. Sa April, magbubuhat ako ng 90% nung binuhat ko sa Olympics . . . Sa September, Asian Indoor (and Martial Arts Games) ang focus ko then sa World Championships sa November.”
Those tournaments will serve as part of Diaz's preparations for next year's Asian Games, where she expects to compete against the same roster of opponents she met at the 53-kilogram division at the Rio Games.
These are gold medalist Hsu Shu-Ching of Chinese-Taipei and China’s Li Yajun, who was a favorite coming into the last year's Olympics. It was Li’s failure to clear any of her 3 attempts at the clean and jerk that paved the way for Diaz’s silver-medal finish.
Diaz believes that if she will be successful in the Asian Games, there’s a big chance she’ll get the gold in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Sana matalo ko yung Taipei at China. Sa body weight ko kasi nasa Asia ‘yung malalakas. Kung mananalo ako dito, malaki ang chance (ko sa Olympics),” she said.
(I hope I can beat the lifters from Taipei and China. The best lifters in my weight class all come from Asia. If I win the Asian Games, I have a great chance in Tokyo.)
Besides winning the silver in Rio, she also nabbed bronze in the world championships and gold in the Asian championships in 2015.
Now a third-year Business Management student at DLSU—College of St. Benilde, Diaz is busy with her studies and training.
The Filipino Olympian acknowledged she was initially having difficulties with the campus environment because she had been away from school for 6 years.
“Nung first day ko sa school medyo na-culture shock ako. Kasi 6 years ako na-stop sa school. Pero sa mga classmates ko nakakapag-interact na'ko sa kanila,” she said.
(There was some culture shock on the first day. I've been out of school for 6 years, but I'm able to interact with classmates now.)
When asked if she has been entertaining suitors, Diaz said she’s focusing on her studies and weightlifting career.
“Priority ko talaga ang training ko. Career o love life? Career muna,” said Diaz.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)