TOKYO Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo takes the first step towards earning a spot to the 2024 Paris Olympics and another crack at a mint as she spearheads the nine-strong Philippine team plunging into World Championships action set Dec. 5 to 16 in Bogota, Colombia.
Ms. Diaz-Naranjo will see action in the women’s 55-kilogram class and will be joined by a determined group that included fellow Olympian Elreen Ann Ando, Asian champion Vanessa Sarno, World Juniors gold winner Rosegie Ramos and Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Kristel Macrohon.
Ms. Sarno will compete in the 71kg division along with Mmsse. Macrohon, Ando in the 59kg section and Ms. Ramos in the 49kg class, the same division another local bet Lovely Inan is competing.
Also vying for glory are Nestor Colonia (men’s 55kg), John Febuar Ceniza (61kg) and Dave Pacaldo (67kg).
Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president and national team delegation head Monico Puentevella said the Bogota tilt is the first of several tournaments where Olympic qualifying points are at stake.
Mmsse. Diaz-Naranjo and Ando went through the same qualifying process in the last cycle and both made it to last year’s Tokyo Games where the former made history by delivering the country a breakthrough Olympic mint.
Ms. Diaz-Naranjo is eyeing to replicate, if not surpass, her three bronze medals won in this same event in 2015 in Houston, 2017 in Anaheim in the United States and 2019 in Pattaya, Thailand.
This event would also serve as an acid test for the 19-year-old Ms. Sarno, who is being groomed as Ms. Diaz-Naranjo’s potential successor after a fifth-place finish in this same event a year ago in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“This is the first qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The World Championships is a prelude to the real one,” said Mr. Puentevella. “We always bring home some medals. Barring injuries, we’re ready. Let God do the rest.”
The other members of the Philippine Sports Commission-funded delegation are coaches Ramon Solis, Richard Pep O. Agosto and Joe Patrick L. Diaz and Ms. Diaz-Naranjo’s husband Julius Naranjo with Dr. Karen Katrina V. Trinidad as psychologist and Jeaneth A. Aro as team nutritionist. — Joey Villar