A GLIMPSE of Philippine weightlifting’s future presented itself at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Youth World Championships in Jeddah.
And no one is prouder than the weightlifters’ coach, Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz’s cousin, Allen Diaz.
But Jeddah wasn’t originally in the itinerary of the young lifters. Their focus was the 2022 Youth Olympics in Dakar, Senegal, which was inadvertently postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These kids sacrificed a lot preparing for the 2022 Youth Olympics but it was called off,” Diaz told BusinessMirror via phone call from Jeddah. “But despite the postponement, the kids never stopped training and stayed disciplined.”
Six youngsters competed in Jeddah with Diaz’s protege Rose Jean Ramos capturing two gold medals (snatch and total weight) and a silver medal (clean and jerk) in the girls’ 45-kg class, while Jeaneth Hipolito, also of Zamboanga City, settled for a bronze in the women’s 40-kg event.
“It’s our first time to compete internationally and we achieved higher than what we expected,” Diaz, a national weightlifter from 2000 to 2008, said. “I never won any medal internationally, but it feels like I won now after the achievements of my students.”
The tournament gathered 300 weightlifters from 52 countries.
“It was not just a simple medal, not a silver or bronze, but gold on the international stage,” he said.
Diaz said their yearlong training intended for the Youth Olympics didn’t just go to waste.
“We can wait until 2026, we still have a lot of students,” he said. “For Ramos and the others, we still have the 2022 Asian Youth Olympics in [Shantou, China] and most likely maybe the Paris 2024 Olympics.”
Diaz has been coaching and training his wards at his Olympic champion cousin’s gym in Barangay Mampang, Zamboanga City.
“Hidilyn [Diaz] congra-tulated us already, and she will give us some more equipment in the gym when we get home,” Diaz said.
Also on the Jeddah team were Adrian Cristobal (boys’ 61 kgs B), Albert Ian Delos Santos (boys’ 61 kgs B), Christian Rodriguez (boys’ 67 kgs B) and Lovely Inan (women’s 49 kgs A). The team is returning home Tuesday.
It marked the third time this year that Philippine weightlifting stamped its class on the global stage. Vanessa Sarno of Bohol won two gold medals and led the country’s two-gold, six-silver and three-bronze haul at the the Asian Weightlifting Championships last April in Tashkent.
Diaz, a four-time Olympian, traces her humble roots to his relatives’ gym in Barangay Mampang.