After delivering the Philippines’ first gold medal in the Olympic Games courtesy of Hidilyn Diaz, the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas said on Tuesday that four young female lifters are being groomed to follow in her footsteps in the succeeding Olympiads, starting in Paris three years from now.
“So now in three years’ time, I am praying and predicting that we will already have a medal in Paris since we have four girls waiting in the wings,” Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella said during the virtual session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum, referring to Vanessa Sarno, Kristel Macrohon, Rosegie Ramos and Elreen Ann Ando, who made her Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Ando finished at seventh place among 12 entries in the women’s 64-kilogram division in Tokyo.
“Si Ando nakapasok na siya sa mata ng karayom. Gusto kong dumaan siya kagaya ng iyak noon ni Hidylin (sa 2012 London Olympics),” Puentevella said in the session supported by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
“Vanessa Sarno is now the Asian champion at 17 and is turning 18,” the former commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission said of the Boholana sensation, who stamped her class in the Asian weightlifting meet last April in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, bagging two golds and a silver in the 71-kilogram division.
“Nandiyan din si Kristel Macrohon. Baka magbago ‘yung attitude niya (pagkatapos mag-medal si Hidilyn),” added Puentevella of the 2019 SEA Games gold medalist in the women’s 76-kg. category, who also bagged two bronze medals in the Asian meet.
Ramos, 16, is a Zamboanga City native and protégé of Diaz at her own gym near her home in Barangay Mampang, according to the weightlifting head in the forum also powered by Smart and Upstream Media as official webcast partner.
Puentevella said he has left the door open for an unprecedented fifth straight Olympic appearance by Diaz, who will be 33 by the time the Paris Olympics comes around.
“Kung talagang kaya ng katawan ni Hidy sa Paris, she will be 33 at that time, puwede siyang mag-medalya muli, pero mag-sasakripisyo siya,” he said. “But if she retires, she will be our national women’s coach for sure. No one can compare with her and she will teach the four young lifters that are coming up.”
He urged Ando, Sarno, Macrohon, and Ramos to follow the model set by the four-time Olympic veteran’s sacrifice, discipline, and dedication in capturing the gold medal, ending the country’s 97-year-old dry spell in the quadrennial sports festival.
“Dapat gayahin nila si Hidy who had no holidays, no Christmas, no New year, no birthday celebrations while she was Kuala Lumpur in training for the Tokyo Olympics,” Puentevella said.
With Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen set to return home to Beijing and unlikely to come back full-time, Puentevella said Diaz and her Guamanian fitness and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo plan to return in the third week of September to Malaysia to resume training.
“As the Olympic champion, Hidy wants to prepare hard for the world championships in Lima, Peru in November so she is going back with Julius to Malaysia in the third week of September to resume training” he said.