By Waylon Galvez
Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz expects tough competition even with Thai weightlifters skipping the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Thailand’s weightlifting association has voluntarily suspended its athletes due to doping issues during the World Championship in Pattaya last September, and that will continue up to the SEA Games set Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
“Sa tingin ko maski wala ang Thailand, it’s going to be tough competition pa din kasi ang Vietnam and Indonesia may mga magagaling din sila,” said Diaz.
The 28-year-old Zamboanga City native is confident, however, of the chances of the national team.
“Maganda yung naging training ng members ng national team, yung preparation OK. Sa tingin ko kaya naman na makakuha ng gold medals,” she said.
The national team trained in China in preparation for the SEA Games, which the country is hosting for the first time in 14 years.
Diaz trained separately for almost two months, and she is currently in Taiwan near the end of another month-long camp with her Chinese coach Kaiwen Gao, and conditioning/strengthening coach Julius Irvin Naranjo.
Diaz said she is in a training facility exclusively for weightlifting at the Gushan Municipal Kaohsiung High School. Once a week, she also trains at the national training center of Taiwan.
“So far maganda naman po, nakabalik na ang kumpyansa sa buhat at naibalik na ang lakas,” said Diaz, the Asian Games gold medalist.
“Nakaka-recover na after bugbugan training, then nasusunod na ang meal plan by my sports nutritionist,” added Diaz, who credited the continuous support of the Philippine Sports Commission under its chairman Butch Ramirez, the Phoenix Fuel company of Dennis Uy and the MVP Sports Foundation (MVPSF) headed by Al Panlilio.
Diaz is aiming for her first ever gold medal in the SEA Games, which also serves as an Olympic qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.