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Lifters plot Olympic bid

Ian Suyu

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HIDILYN Diaz moves her training to Malaysia following the outbreak of novel coronavirus.   TRIBUNE PHOTO

The national weightlifting team is now finalizing its revised training program following the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella said Hidilyn Diaz and Kristel Macrohon had taken a detour after their original plan of training in China was shattered by the outbreak of the deadly virus.

Diaz, for one, would be training in Malaysia while the SWP board searches for the possible training venue of Macrohon in preparation for the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Kazakhstan in April.

“Hidilyn is already sure to train in Malaysia next week. She will be there on her own with her team of six personnel,” Puentevella said, adding that Diaz is preferring to train in isolation to jack up her chances to win the country’s first Olympic gold medal.

“As to Macrohon, there’s no final decision yet. But it would be great if she will train in the United States or Europe because she can focus there. The board has yet to decide what would be the best for her.”

Puentevella said Macrohon, a gold medalist in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, would be joined by other young weightlifters in John Ceniza and Elreen Ando.

“Ceniza and Ando will join her. Actually, we’re not in a hurry because this is just a stepping-stone for them. Our goal is to have them qualify in the Paris Olympics in 2024.”

The coronavirus had already cancelled a swathe of major international competitions, including Olympic qualifying tournaments in athletics, basketball and football.

The number of cases had already soared to 60,000 with a death toll of over 1,000.

Puentevella fears that the Asian tilt — their last tournament before punching a ticket to the Olympics — might also be scrapped.

“If this virus does not have an instant cure, then I think the big question now is for the International Olympic Committee and Asian Weightlifting Federation to decide whether Chinese athletes would be allowed to join,” said Puentevella, a former sports commissioner and chairman of the Philippine Olympic Committee.

“This coronavirus has really affected our program. But as soon as they have prepared all the papers and travel order, they will start training abroad.”

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