4 lifters wait in wings to be Diaz’z heir apparent


FOUR young female athletes are being groomed as heir apparent to Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

And all four, according to weightlifting chief Monico Puentevella, could be medal prospects in Paris 2024.

“In three years’ time, I am praying and predicting that we’ll have a medal in Paris because we have four girls waiting in the wings,” Puentevella, president of the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas, told Tuesday’s virtual Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

Elreen Ann Ando, who made her Olympic debut in Tokyo, along with Vanessa Sarno, Kristel Macrohon and Rosegie Ramos, Puentevella told the session supported by San Miguel Corp., Milo, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Ando finished seventh place among 12 entries in the  women’s -64 kgsdivision in Tokyo.   

“Ando threaded the eye of the needle to make it to Tokyo and she cried, the way Hidilyn cried when she crashed out of London in 2012,” Puentevella said. Diaz had a terrible stint in London where she failed to clear one lift.

“Vanessa Sarno is now the Asian champion at 17 and is turning 18,” the former commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) said of the sensation from Bohol, who bagged two silvers and one bronze medal in the women’s -71 kgs class in the Asian championships in Tashkent last April.

“And there’s Kristel Macrohon. Her focus on her sport could have changed after Hidilyn’s success,” added Puentevella of the 2019 SEA Games gold medalist in the women’s -76 kgs class who also nailed two bronze medals in Tashkent.

Ramos, 16, is a Zamboanga City native and a protégé of Diaz in her own gym near her home in Barangay Mampang, Puentevella also told the forum powered by Smart with Upstream Media as official webcast partner.  

Puentevella said he has left the door open for an unprecedented fifth straight Olympic appearance by Diaz, who will be 33 in 2024.  

Puentevella said Chinese Gao Kaiwen would most likely no longer be Diaz’s head coach as he plans to stay for good in Beijing,

Diaz and her Guamanian fitness and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, according to Puentevella, plan to return to Malaysia next month to resume training.

Diaz will be competing in the world championships in Lima, Peru, in November.

Image courtesy of Hidilyn Diaz’s Instagram Account

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