HIDILYN DIAZ-NARANJO won’t vie for a third consecutive Southeast Asian Games gold medal in favor of the Asian Weightlifting Championship—a Paris 2024 Olympics qualifier that runs in conflict with the Cambodia Games in May.
This was confirmed to BusinessMirror on Monday by the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist’s husband and coach Julius Naranjo.
Naranjo said that the Cambodia 32nd SEA Games set from May 5 to 17 runs smack into the Asian championships that are scheduled May 3 to 13 in Jinju, South Korea.
“I don’t see it as advisable for us to compete in the SEA Games because it is not an Olympic qualifying event,” said Naranjo, adding that Diaz-Naranjo also wanted to give younger athletes the opportunity to excel in Cambodia.
“At the end of the day, we’re focusing on qualifying for the Olympics and Hidilyn also wants to give chance to other aspiring athletes who can make a mark in SEA Games,” he said. “We have to look for what’s more relevant and we think the Jinju competition is more likely our destination.”
Diaz-Naranjo can compete in her fifth consecutive Olympics in Paris if she makes the grade in six international competitions that the sport’s international federation identified as qualifiers for the 2024 Games.
Diaz-Naranjo hurdled her first with flying colors by sweeping the snatch, clean and jerk and total lift for her first world championships gold medals in Bogota, Colombia, last December 7.
But that success in Bogota was at 55 kgs, the same category where she won gold in Tokyo.
The 55-kg class was scratched from the Paris program, forcing Diaz-Naranjo to move up to the 50-kg division.
The couple had a pre-holiday vacation in the US after the world championships and flew back home last December 20.
Despite the holidays, Naranjo said they didn’t relax in training at their own training facility in Jala-Jala.
“It’s still the same training routine after we celebrated Christmas and New Year,” Naranjo said. “We didn’t miss a beat.”
Naranjo said the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) time line for aspirants to the Paris Olympics started August last year and expires in April 2024.
Diaz-Naranjo’s qualifying schedule includes the 2023 IWF Grand Prix 1 and 2, the 2024 senior continental championships and the IWF World Cup in Thailand in April.
According to the IWF website, a total of 120 athletes are competing in 10 categories—five each men and women—in Paris, numbers which are much less than the 196 who saw action in Tokyo and the 260 weightlifters at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
France has four quota allocations (two for men and two for women) and there will also be 10 quota places reserved for continental representation and six quota places for Universality places which will be decided by the Tripartite Commission in 2024.
Each national Olympic committee will only be able to qualify one athlete per weight class—and three per gender across all weight categories, which is down from four each at Tokyo 2020.
A maximum of 12 athletes —two less in each category than Tokyo—will compete in each weight class.