Hidilyn Diaz targeting Paris 2024 after defending weightlifting crown at SEA Games: “This is the beginning of my journey"

The 31-year-old weightlifting pride of the Philippines surged in the clean-and-jerk to clinch her second consecutive SEA Games gold and launched her bid for the next Olympic Games.  

By Chloe Merrell

Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold medallist Hidilyn Diaz says she now has Paris 2024 in her sights after she went back-to-back in the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition at the Southeast Asian Games on Friday (20 May).

The 31-year-old held off an early charge from Sanikun Tanasan of Thailand, an Olympic gold medallist from Rio 2016, who took the lead after putting down a new SEA Games record (93kg) in the snatch.

The Filipina then responded with a strong clean-and-jerk of 114kg in her first attempt to separate herself from the chasing pack, and with a combined score of 206kg she reclaimed the title.

Though some way off the marks she hit at Tokyo 2020, where she won her historic gold, Diaz told reporters that she was nevertheless pleased with her performance:

"I’m happy to be back again, to be back and train, and to be in competition again and that I was able to drop my weight because I had COVID. I'm so grateful that I was recovered and I was able to do my best for the Philippines."

When asked if there were any nerves in tow after Tanasan edged ahead after the snatch, Diaz insisted that she was prepared for such an occasion:

“I'm really confident with my strength in clean and jerk and, we've been studying my opponent, so we know she's strong in snatch, but in clean and jerk.

“I always want to do my best and she's an Olympic medallist. So, we just wanted to strategise everything for the Philippines."

With her crown safely secured, Diaz says she is now turning her attention towards the next Olympic Games in France, which is a little over two years away.

“This is the beginning of my journey towards Paris 2024,” confirmed Diaz. “I'm excited. [It will be a] little bit challenging to qualify again in Paris. But again, I will do my best with Team HD. For us to qualify and win again the gold medal in Olympics - we will do our best.”

Diaz shot to fame after her breakthrough Olympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020 where, on the fourth time of trying, she became the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medallist.

Her ceiling-smashing feat was widely heralded across the country and is now being used as motivation by other Filipinos seeking to achieve the same level of success and notoriety.

MORE: EJ Obiena hunting Paris 2024 success inspired by Hidilyn Diaz

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