Hidilyn Diaz skipping SEA Games

We have lifters like Sarno who are ready to play for the country

Hidilyn Diaz puts premium on her quest to make the Paris Olympics instead of going for a sure gold in the Phnom Penh Southeast Asian Games. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz will prioritize the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Korea over the 32nd Southeast Asian Games so she can rack up precious points needed to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

This was the announcement made by the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas which is putting premium on the 3 to 13 May liftfest in Jinju instead of the 5 to 17 May regional spectacle Phnom Penh is hosting.

SWP president Monico Puentevalla insists that “Hidilyn is focusing on the Asian championships.”

Even though Diaz, 31, is expected to overwhelm the opposition in Cambodia and pick up her third SEA Games gold, not taking part this year is a no-brainer given Diaz’s priorities.

Apart from the two top gold medals, Diaz also took silvers in Jakarta and Naypdidaw and a bronze in Nakhon Ratchasima.

In the last two SEA Games—Manila and Hanoi—Diaz finally reigned supreme.

Filling void for Diaz in Phnom Penh are Vanessa Sarno, Kristel Macrohon and Rosegie Ramos, all regarded as the future of Philippine weightlifting.

Sarno bagged the gold in the 71 kg in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“We have lifters like Sarno who are ready to play for the country,” Puentevella said.

In Hanoi, Diaz, who settled for silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics, led the Philippines to a 2-1-1 haul, a tally Puentevella swears can be improved.

Also on the horizon for Diaz is a stint in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in September-October, which will serve as an opportunity for the Zamboanga City native to bolster her chances of making the grade for Paris.

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