After weightlifting wonder Hidilyn Diaz “paid her dues” with her gold-clinching performance in the Tokyo Olympics, the president of the country’s weightlifting federation now pins his hopes on budding weightlifters such as Boholana Vanessa Sarno for another podium finish in the quadrennial meet.
Samahan ng Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentavella named the 18-year-old Sarno as among the bright prospects for the Paris Olympics in 2024, who may or may not be joined by Diaz.
Puentavilla expressed confidence that “four to five” women including Sarno, Kristel Macrohon and Olympian Elreen Ann Ando will qualify for the Paris Olympics and win medals.
“Bantayan natin uli sa Paris Olympics because there are other new girls aside from Hidilyn, because Hidilyn has paid her dues to this country. She already won a silver in Rio, a gold in Tokyo. She will try to be in Paris but I tell you there will also be new girls on the podium,” said Puentavella in an interview over Power and Play on February 26.
The country’s top prospects had their first crack at qualifying for the Olympics during the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships in December last year but the team wrapped up its campaign with no medals.
The IWF world championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan was the first in a series of events that give out slots for the Paris Olympics.
Sarno, touted as the heir apparent to the 31-year-old Diaz, had the strongest performance for the Philippine team but settled for fifth place when she was stuck in a three-way logjam.
She also broke the national record for snatch as she lifted 103kg eclipsing the previous record of 101kg which she set in the Asian Championships in April, last year in which she won two gold medals.
The Boholana also surpassed her previous best total lift of 229kg by lifting a total of 231kg in the world championships.
Meanwhile, the Philippine women’s weightlifting team is now preparing for the Southeast Asian Games which will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam in May.
Puentavella said he was confident that the Philippines will take home at least three gold medals in the SEA Games, more than the two it clinched in 2019.
He hopes that the regional meet would help hone the Philippine lifters but noted that winning in the Olympics will always be the ultimate goal.
“Modesty aside, my goal is always the Olympics. It was never the Asian Games or the SEA Games. For me, itong dalawa stepping stones lang yan. Ang pinapangarap ko talaga ang Olympics,” he added. (AD)