Diaz-Naranjo and company arrive in Japan for final preps for worlds in Korea

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OLYMPIC and world champion Hidilyn Diaz and her team landed on Sunday in Tokyo where they will resume training ahead of the Asian Weightlifting Championships—a qualifier for the Paris 2024 Games.

With Diaz-Naranjo is her husband and chief trainer Julius Naranjo, assistant trainer Rowell Garcia and Asian youth and junior champion Rosegie Ramos, who’s also trying to qualify for Paris.

Team HD previously trained at the US weightlifting training facility in Suwanee, Georgia, in the US to prepare for the Asian championships set May 3 to 13 in Jinju, South Korea.

Diaz-Naranjo is neck-deep in training as she moved up to the 59 kgs class from 55 kgs where she won gold in Tokyo.

“It takes time to see a great progress in what I’m doing as I embark in a new weight class,” Diaz-Naranjo told BusinessMirror over the weekend. “It doesn’t mean that I can easily lift 30 kilos instantly in my new weight category, it really takes a lot of time.”

With the Asian championships and Olympic qualifiers her focus, Diaz-Naranjo is skipping the Cambodia 32nd Southeast Asian Games that start May 5. She’s the defending champion in 55 kgs, which was scrapped from the Paris program.

“But I really need to believe, trust the process that everything goes well up to the Paris Olympics,” she said.

Diaz-Naranjo and her team checked in Monday in a Tokyo facility where top Japanese weightlifters also train.

“It’s hard and I haven’t felt my strength in the new weight class yet. It really tough to build more muscles, but I’m really motivated and inspired to wait for the progress,” she said. “We have to realize that it doesn’t mean that I always win because it’s no longer the 55 kg where I used to compete in.”

She last competed at 55 kgs at the world Championships in Bogota, Colombia, where she won gold in record fashion last December.

While at the Power and Grace Gym in Swanee from March 8 to 25, Diaz-Naranjo trained alongside Tokyo Olympics silver medalists Kate Vibert (71 kgs)  and Jourdan de la Cruz (49 kgs).

“They were great in motivating and improving me and it was really big,” she said.

They fly to South Korea for the world championships, the second of six qualifiersDiaz-Naranjo need to complete to be able to compete in her fifth Olympics—and potentially a second gold on top of a silver from London 2012—in Paris.

The Naranjo couple took in the 19-year-old Ramos who they described as showing strong potential to qualify for her first Olympics next year.

“We saw her [Ramos] big potential to qualify for Paris,” said Diaz-Naranjo of Ramos, her neighbor in Barangay Mampang in Zamboanga City.

Ramos has diligently trained with Team HD at its Jala-jala facility.

“Her progress is very impressive and we empowered her during training as we saw how inspired and motivated she is while we’re there training with other Olympians in Georgia,” Diaz-Naranjo said. “I’m really happy to see her determination.”

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