Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella refused to make any promises as they head for the 2022 IWF World Weightlifting Championships starting Monday in Bogota, Colombia.
In a message to Daily Tribune, Puentevella admitted that things are not rosy for the nine-man weightlifting squad that is being bannered by Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.
Asian champion Vanessa Sarno, for one, is not in perfect condition after suffering a hand accident while training in Bohol.
Still, the 19-year-old Sarno, also a gold medalist in the women’s 71-kilogram class of the 31st Southeast Asian Games, joined the team, hoping to garner enough points that she will need in her bid to make a debut in the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“We will just do our best and we will let God do the rest,” said Puentevella, who is already in the Colombian capital to attend a crucial meeting of the world-governing International Weightlifting Federation.
“Everybody is ready except for Vanessa Sarno, who got into a slight hand accident while training in Bohol. But she will still be with us as she needs to get whatever point she can to qualify in th Olympics.”
Aside from Diaz and Sarno, also seeing action in the prestigious event are SEA Games champion Kristel Macrohon (71kgs), Rosegie Ramos and Lovely Inan (49kgs), Elreen Ando (59kgs), Rio Olympics veteran Nestor Colonia (55kgs), John Ceniza (61kgs), and Dave Lloyd Pacaldo (67kgs).
Diaz, who flew in from the Power and Grace Performance Gym in Georgia with her entire team like coach Julius Naranjo and dietician Jeaneth Aroon Saturday, is facing an uphill climb in the women’s 55-kg category.
In fact, she is just seeded second after entering a target lift of 210 kgs, which is five kilograms lighter than what Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Zulfiya Chinshanlo plans to accomplish.
Reports have it, however, that Chinshanlo is no longer in the start list as she still endures an exhausting campaign in the Asian Championships in Bahrain last October.
Also in Diaz’s weight category are some of the big guns of the event like Olympian Ana Gabriela Lopez and Irene Esmeralda of Mexico, Andrea Cotruta of Romania and Enkhtamir Enkhbaatar of Mongolia.
Should Diaz emerge victorious and punch a ticket to the Olympics, she has to choose if she will vie in either the 49kg or the heavier 59kg event since the IWF already scratched the 55kg division in the Paris Games.
But Puentevella refused to look far.
“What’s important at this stage is just to qualify,” he said.
“Winning medals in the Olympics 2024 is not yet in our minds right now.”