Hidilyn returning to Malaysia


AFTER dozens upon dozens of commitments—from media interviews and guestings to endorsements and commercial and photo shoots—that made her busier than a bee, Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz is flying to Malaysia on Saturday to return to training.

Her next focus? The world championships gold medal that remains missing in her bevy of collections.

“Malaysia’s a great place to recalibrate Hidilyn [Diaz] rather than in Manila because everything is still close here,” Julius Naranjo told BusinessMirror on Monday. “So we’ll see first what will happen in Malaysia. It’s going to be back to pure focus and work out there.”

Diaz and part of her team—now popularly called Team HD for Team Hidilyn Diaz—locked themselves down in Malacca, Malaysia, since February last year up to July when they flew to Tokyo for the Olympics.

While there, Diaz trained with nary a distraction with the Malaysian and the Malacca governments and the country’s weightlifting federation extending courtesy to the now first Filipino Olympic gold medalist.

The world championships are set from December 7 to 17 in Tashklent, the Uzbekistan capital where Diaz got to formally qualify for the Tokyo Olympics during the Asian championships last April.

“That’s the only one missing,” Diaz told BusinessMirror when she, along with boxing silver medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio and bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial, were presented their brand-new homes in Tagaytay City by Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino in August.

Diaz was already an Olympian at 17 when she was a wild card entry in Beijing in 2008 and attended the next two succeeding Olympics in London and Rio de Janeiro. But it was only in 2018 in Jakarta when she won her first Asian Games gold medal and in 2019 in Subic when she got her first Southeast Asian Games title.

Naranjo admitted they need to refocus immediately as he assumes the role of Diaz’s head coach. They let go of Chinese Coach Kaiwen Gao, who has long requested after Tokyo that he returns home to his family in Beijing.

He said he is ready to face the challenges as head coach.

“It’s never easy to transition to head coach. But I feel the pandemic has given me the opportunity to really take lead,” he said. “I put in a lot of work during the pandemic to really work on Hidilyn’s program and do all the necessary work a head coach normally does.”

Naranjo said Diaz always made sure to lift weights and sweat as she attended to her various sorties.

He added that the Hanoi 31st SEA Games and Hangzhou 19th Asian Games in 2022 are also on their program.

Without Gao, Team HD is now one member less with Naranjo assuming the head and strength and conditioning coaches position, Jeaneth Aro staying as sports nutritionist and Karen Katrina Trinidad as sports psychologist.

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