Heavier challenge fuels Hidilyn’s drive for back-to-back Olympic gold medals

Hidilyn Diaz is looking to continue her Tokyo Olympics gold medal with victory at the world championships later this year

Hidilyn Diaz is looking to continue her Tokyo Olympics gold medal with victory at the world championships later this year. —FRANCIS TJ OCHOA

The harder things get, the more active Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo becomes.

The Filipino weightlifting celebrity didn’t blink when he said so.

“I love being challenged. This year I will become more disciplined and determined to win consecutive gold medals at the Olympics for our country,” said Diaz-Naranjo, who will advance to the women’s 59 kg category for a second consecutive medal. gold chapter.

This weight class means navigating unfamiliar territory for the four-time Olympic athlete, who won the country’s first gold medal in Summer Olympics history when she dominated the 55 kg category at Tokyo 2021. But that weight class, which Diaz-Naranjo has dominated in major competitions, has been dropped from the program of the 2024 Paris Olympics, and the Filipino star has decided to move up in search of an encore version.

muscular physique

She admits that with the move, she will need to develop a muscular physique to be able to carry more power.

“I need to focus more when training to reach 59 kg. I expect the workout to be much more challenging when I do my diet. Rest is also important to prevent injury, says Diaz-Naranjo.

The 31-year-old woman from Zamboanga City will not be alone in her search.

Diaz-Naranjo will be guided step-by-step by head coach Julius Naranjo along with the rest of Team HD—sports psychologist Karen Trinidad, nutritionist Jeanette Aro and assistant Rowel Garcia.

If there’s one thing she can capitalize on, it’s that Diaz-Naranjo has seen all of her possible opponents in Paris.

“I watched how they played in the world championships, their technique and how they prepared themselves. I’m confident I can do it,” said Diaz-Naranjo, who finally claimed the missing crown from his collection when he won 55 kg at the Federation World Championships International Weightlifting (IWF) in Colombia.

top competitor

By “doing it”, Diaz-Naranjo means that she will work to topple her opponent starting from the Olympic qualifiers all the way to Paris.

World champions Luo Xiaomin of China (jeckey) and Yenny Alvarez of Colombia (jerk) are her toughest opponents in the 59 kg category. Kou Hsing-chun of Taipei-China and Maude Charron of Canada, the defending Olympic champion in the 64 kg weight class, are also medal contenders.

The Filipino weightlifting icon has to go through four more qualifying tournaments before the Paris Olympics with two of them mandatory events—IWF 2023 World Championships in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from the 2nd. through September 17 and the 2024 IWF World Championships.

She already has a tournament in her pocket with the Colombia world championship and looks forward to three more tournaments next year, including the Saudi Arabia world.

“I’m not going there just to play. My goal is to be the best weightlifter in these tournaments,” said Diaz-Naranjo, who visited Philippine Sports Commission President Richard Bachmann earlier this week.

“That will be my thought all the way to Paris.”

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