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Pinoys eye Paris glory

HANGZHOU, China — With the 19th Asian Games now in the books, Team Philippines sets its sights on a bigger mission: The Paris Olympics.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and boxer Eumir Marcial declared their readiness to prepare in a bid to deliver the country’s second gold medal in the Summer Games next year.

Diaz said she used the previous Asian Games as a warm-up tournament for the Olympics following her move from 55-kilogram class to a much heavier 59-kg category.

After all, she is coming in as an Olympic champion in the 55-kg class and emerging victorious will not just give the country its second Olympic medal but will also prove that she can assert her dominance in two weight classes.

“The battle is not here in Hangzhou, it is in Paris,” said the 32-year-old Diaz after bombing out of the medal podium in the Asian Games that came to a close on Sunday at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre here.

“I am just new in this weight class so I used the Asian Games as a way to gauge myself against bigger competitors. So far, so good. I am glad to know that I am now improving and will continue to improve as the Olympics draw near.”

Like Diaz, Marcial is also determined to strike gold in Paris.

Despite failing to win the gold medal in the Asian Games, Marcial is still satisfied with the outcome of his campaign as he was able to see the field that awaits him in the Olympics.

“This is a different weight class for me so I’m really happy to make it to the final,” said Marcial after beating a rugged Syrian for to advance to the gold medal match of the men’s 80-kg class and punch a ticket to Paris.

He, however, fell prey to a gritty Chinese puncher in what sideliners branded as “hometown decision” in the final.

Marcial said he is looking at having two professional fights before going full blast with his Olympic preparation.

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