HANGZHOU—Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo will banner the medal bid of the Philippine weightlifting team here in the 19th Asian Games.
Although the two-time Olympic medal performer has gone up to a bulkier weight class, Diaz-Naranjo remains as a medal hope when the national lifters kick off their campaign here.
“Whether it’s the Olympics or the Asian Games, I have to be ready to compete,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo, who won the gold in the women’s 55kg during the 2018 edition of Asiad in Indonesia.
Bidding for a record fifth straight Olympic appearance next year in France, Diaz-Naranjo was forced to move up to 59 kg after her weight category got scrapped by Paris Olympic organizers.
She won the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in the 55kg during the Tokyo Olympics.
So far, Diaz-Naranjo has already completed three of the five qualifying meets required in her sport to punch a Paris ticket.
“I just want to represent our country again in the Asian Games. This is the second biggest competition next to the Olympics,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo.
Rosegie Ramos takes centerstage first in the five-man team supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee on Saturday in the women’s 49kg at the Xiaoshan Sports Centre Gymnasium.
John Febuar Ceniza, also in the hunt for a trip to the Paris Olympics, takes the floor on Sunday in the men’s 61kg before Diaz-Naranjo and Tokyo Olympian ElreenAnn Ando (women’s 64kg) see action the following day.
Vanessa Sarno, a former Asian champion who injured her elbow in the recent 2023 IWF World Championships in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is set to compete in the women’s 76kg on Oct. 5.