By Waylon Galvez
Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella said is eyeing to have between three to four Filipino weightlifters competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who won the gold medal in the 55kg women’s category in the 2020 Roma World Cup in Italy last Tuesday, is currently in the top five in the world rankings.
Three others are in the running to earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympics, including former Olympian Nestor Colonia, who is at No. 31 in the 67kg men’s, as well as Elreen An Ando (64kg) and Kristel Macrohon (71kg) – both at No. 20 in their respective divisions in the women’s side.
“Hidilyan Diaz, of course is about 90 percent sure of making it to the Olympics, although she still needs to compete in the Asian Championship to get the required number of six tournaments,” said Puentevella.
“I’m hoping that we get two or three more. Nestor is a former Olympian, while Elreen and Kristel are both upcoming weightlifters but they have a chance to make it to the Tokyo Olympics.”
The number of entries for the Philippine Team, according to Puentevella, would be determined after the Asian Championship.
It is one of the highly anticipated events in weightlifting since Asian athletes, particularly from China, Indonesia and Chinese Taipei are considered the best in the world.
“We’ll know the number after the Asian Championship, that’s why it’s important that our weightlifters perform well in that event since that will decide if they make it to the Tokyo Olympics,” said Puentevella.
“That event will also be the sixth international Olympic Qualifying Tournament, a requirement by the IF, to be able to be considered. After that, points will be totaled and the top eight athletes (from every category in men’s and women’s) will earn spots in the Tokyo Olympics.”
Under the rules, of the six events where an athlete joined, his or her best four finishes – or points collected – will be tabulated. The said Asian Championships set April 16 to 25 will be held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
John Fabuar Ceniza, who bagged the bronze medal in the 61kg in the World Cup, currently ranks No. 146 in the world, while Jeffrey Garcia is at No. 54 in the 73kg, while Mary Flor Diaz competed in the 49kg in the World Cup.
Puentevella said that with the health concerns in some parts of China and even neighboring nations like Taiwan, weightlifters will continue training here in the country in preparation for the Asian Championship.
“The health issue changes everything, so for now, our athletes will train here,” Puentevella said.