Olympic silver medalist and Asian Games champion Hidilyn Diaz will begin her campaign in the 2018 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
Besides capturing a medal on the world stage, Diaz is looking to earn the qualifying points needed to make it into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Joining Diaz are fellow Zamboangeno and Rio Olympian Nestor Colonia, who will compete in the men’s 61kg and national team member Jeffrey Garcia in the men’s 67kg.
Rose Gie Ramos who will compete in 45kg., Ellen Rose Perez in 49kg, Elren Ann Ando in 59kg, and Kristel Macrohon in the 71kg.
The Ashgabat meet is the first of six qualifying tournaments sanctioned by IWF where rankings points are stake in each category for qualification to the Tokyo Summer Games.
“The more athletes po na makapag-qualify, mas malaking chances natin na tuluyang maputol ang pagkauhaw at maiuwi ang unang gintong medalya ng Pilipinas sa Olympics,” said Diaz.
From 53kg, Diaz will jump to 55kg, a new weight category put up by the IWF.
Newly appointed national head coach Leonardo Llena said the contingent hopes to get the most points at stake in all the tournaments for the country to have more qualifiers in different weight categories. .
“Our athletes need to earn points in all six IWF-sanctioned events to qualify to the Olympics,” said Llena, also a former national weightlifter.
“The more qualifiers we have, the more chances we could end our Olympic gold-medal drought,” said Llena.