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Finally, Diaz captures ‘lost gold’

The only gold medal missing in Hidilyn Diaz’s vast collection of accolades had been finally captured.

Diaz formally ended her quest for glory on the world stage when she clinched three gold medals in the women’s 55-kilogram event of the 2022 IWF World Weightlifting Championships Thursday morning (Manila time) at the Gran Carpa Americas Corferias in the Colombian capital of Bogota.

Diaz, the reigning Olympic champion, dominated the field, lifting 93 kgs in snatch and 114 kgs in clean and jerk for a commanding total of 207 kgs to complete a hat-trick of glory in the biggest, most prestigious weightlifting event outside the Summer Games.

Hometown bet Rosalba Morales, who just won the gold medal South American Games in Paraguay, grabbed the silver medal with 89 kgs in snatch, 110 kgs in clean and jerk for a total lift of 199 kgs while rising star Shaylah Mariah Moore of the United States settled for the bronze medal with 86 kgs in snatch, 110 kgs in clean and jerk for a total lift of 114 kgs.

Moore, who is based at the Power and Grace Performance Gym in Georgia where Diaz also trained weeks before this prestigious event, yielded the bronze medal in snatch to 19-year-old Andreea Contruta of Romania, who registered 87 kgs.

But what made the victory sweet for the 31-year-old Diaz was the fact that she finally ticked the last remaining box in her long list of personal goals.

Aside from the Olympics, Diaz also already captured the gold medal in the Asian Games, when she ruled the women’s 53-kg event in Jakarta in 2018, and the Southeast Asian Games, when she conquered the women’s 55-kg event in Manila in 2019 followed by another mint in the regional stage in Hanoi in 2021.

Off the court, Diaz is also winning as she got married to her longtime boyfriend – her coach in Julius Naranjo – last July and earned her Business Management degree from College of Saint Benilde in November while running her very successful HD Weightlifting Academy.

With all those milestones, Diaz admitted that it was hard for her to focus on winning in the World Championships.

“It’s a challenge for me to go back after I won the first gold medal for the Philippines in the Olympics,” said Diaz, adding that she really gave her best knowing that it will be her final stint in the women’s 55-kg event.

“Being here, I am so grateful to win the gold medal. I am so happy because this will be my last lift in the 55 kilos event.”

She added that she marched to battle knowing that all of the best lifters in the world are determined to beat her.

“Before we went here, we trained in Atlanta at Power and Grace. Then here, I trained in yoga and I ran a lot,” said Diaz, who was powered by a solid group of support crew in Naranjo, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and sports psychiatrist Karen Trinidad in the city that lies on a plateau of Andes Mountain.

“We trained for high altitude. It’s hard to adjust here in Bogota because it has a time zone that is different from what we have in the Philippines,” she said.

In a telephone conversation with Daily Tribune, Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas Monico Puentevella said Diaz’s victory is a major boost in her bid for the gold medal in the Paris Olympics in 2024. Diaz will have to climb to the 59-kg category after organizers scrapped the 55-kg event.

“We came here to gain points to qualify for the Olympics,” said Puentevella, adding that Diaz’s victory definitely rallied other young lifters, especially Olympian Elreen Ando who will compete in the 59 kg event on Friday.

“Her winning the gold will give us a better chance of qualifying even if she goes up to 59 kg event because 55 kg is no longer in the calendar in Paris. This victory gave her a big point to qualify.”

“I am sure she will inspire all the other lifters who are still struggling to qualify in the next few days.”

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