HIDILYN DIAZ-NARANJO refuses to feel comfortable being at No. 7 in the world of her weight class as the qualifiers for the weightlifting competitions for the Paris 2024 Olympics winds down to three remaining tournaments.
“It’s hard to be complacent, you don’t know what might happen next,” Diaz-Naranjo told BusinessMirror during a break in her training camp at the Grand Tulip Hotel in Manama, Bahrain, on Friday.
Diaz-Naranjo’s ranked No. 7 in women’s 59 kgs, the weight class that clinched her silver at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics but is the next heavier division over the 55-kg category where she won the country’s first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo 2020.
“There ara a lot of things that could happen in two remaining Olympic qualifiers,” said Diaz-Naranjo, 32, who decided along with husband and coach Julius Naranjo to train in Manama where there are little or no distrations at all.
The couple were stranded during the pandemic in Malaysia ahead of the Tokyo Games, but being holed up away from home with Narano and her then Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen eventually worked wonders in Tokyo.
Diaz-Naranjo is training for her fourth Olympic qualifier in Doha from December 4 to 15, hoping to stay consistent or get better to stay inside the top 12 in her weight class.
The Paris Olympics will feature only the world’s top 12 in each of the weight categories for weightlifting in both genders.
“We just have to train a little bit harder, be wiser and stronger so that we can grab an Olympic berth by May,” Diaz-Naranjo said.
Diaz-Naranjo is by far the only Filipino athlete who’s bound to compete in five consecutive Olympics. She started as an innocent 18-year-old wild card in Beijing 2008 and had gone through the worse and the best in her Olympic career. She registered a “No Lift” at the London 2012 Games.
Diaz-Naranjo’s protégé, Rosegie Ramos, is also in Manama training for the Doha qualifier. She’s No. 9 in the women’s 49-kg class also after three Olympic qualifiers.
Also in contention for an Olympic berth are Vanessa Sarno (No. 9, women’s 71 kgs) and John Febuar Ceniza (men’s 61 kgs).
Tokyo Olympian Elreen Ann Ando is also in contention for Paris at No. 10 in the same women’s 59 kgs division. The Olympics, however, allows only one qualifier from each country.