For the longest time, weightlifting has been synonymous to Hidilyn Diaz.
Well, not anymore.
Kristel Macrohon came out of nowhere to pluck the country’s second gold medal in the weightlifting competition of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Tuesday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Drawing strength from Diaz, who was cheering wildly at the sidelines, the 23-year-old pride of Zamboanga City registered a total lift of 216 kgs in the women’s 71-kg division to clinch the country’s second gold medal in weightlifting.
She notched 93 kg in snatch and 123 kg in clean and jerk to compete a stunning upset of Thi Van Nguyen of Vietnam.
The Vietnamese, who is coming in as a heavy favorite following a bridesmaid finish in the past three editions of the Asian Championships, managed to lift only 214 kg, which came from 92 kg in snatch and 122 kg in clean and jerk.
Tsabitha Ramadan of Indonesia settled for the bronze medal with a total lift of 203 kg.
Actually, Macrohon drew cheers from the large home crowd after she managed to lift 123 kg in clean and jerk in her third attempt to soar all the way on top of the leaderboard.
It was initially ruled a faulty lift, but judges eventually counted it, putting massive pressure on the shoulders of the Vietnamese lifter, who saw action in various major tournaments, including the Asian Youth Games last year.
Nguyen tried to go for the kill in her final attempt, but she failed to lift 125 kg to settle for only 214 kg and the consolation silver medal.
Nguyen failed in her last attempt at 125kg in the clean and jerk, enabling Macrohon, like Diaz a native of Zamboanga City, to escape with the golden win.
“I’m so overwhelmed. I didn’t expect this because the Vietnamese lifter is really the No. 1 in the division. I thought I could only win a silver medal. But Hidilyn inspired me to go for the gold,” said Macrohon, who is one of the young lifters being groomed by Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) to qualify in the Tokyo Olympics.
With just one event left (men’s 73 kg) in the four-day competition, Vietnam has clinched the overall title in the discipline with four gold medals on top of four silver and one bronze medals followed by Indonesia (3-1-5) and the Philippines (2-3-2).
Myanmar had a lone silver medal in the 10-event competition while Malaysia, the 2017 host, ended its campaign with a solitary bronze to show, a far cry from its 1-1-1 performance two years ago.
SWP president Monico Puentevella said he is glad over the performance of his wards.
“This is our best performance since 1991,” said the former Bacolod lawmaker and Philippine Olympic Committee chairman.
“We’ve shown in this tournament that we have a solid pipeline of talent just in case Hidilyn decides to retire after Tokyo. I’m happy with how the Kristel and the whole team performed.”
Puentevella said overall, the competition went perfectly well.
“I’m very happy with the success of the weightlifting competition. We really worked hard for this. I think this is one of the most successful SEA Games as far as weightlifting is concerned,” he said.