Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) is eyeing four young female weightlifters to follow in gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz’s footsteps in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

/ 19 August 2021

SWP president Monico Puentevella named Elreen Ann Ando, who made her Olympic debut in Tokyo, Vanessa Sarno, Kristel Macrohon, and Rosegie Ramos during the virtual session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.

“So now in three years’ time, I am praying and predicting that we will already have a medal in Paris since we have four girls waiting in the wings,” Puentevella said in the session supported by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

First-time Olympian Ando placed seventh place among 12 participants in the women’s 64-kilogram division in Tokyo.

Si Ando nakapasok na siya sa mata ng karayom. Gusto kong dumaan siya kagaya ng iyak noon ni Hidilyn,” Puentevella reminisced about Diaz’s second Olympic stint in London where she cleared 97 kg in her snatch attempt but failed to convert a successful lift in the clean and jerk.

“Vanessa Sarno is now the Asian champion at 17 and is turning 18,” he said of the Boholana athlete.

Sarno claimed two golds and a silver medal in the 71-kilogram division at the Asian Weightlifting Championship last April in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Nandiyan din si Kristel Macrohon. Baka magbago yong attitude niya (pagkatapos mag-medal si Hidilyn),” added Puentevella.

Macrohon secured the gold medal in the 2019 SEA Games women’s 76-kilogram category. She also brought home two bronze medals in her campaign in the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Championship.

Moreover, 16-year-old Ramos is a Zamboanga City native and protégé of Diaz at her own gym near her home in Barangay Mampang.

The weightlifting head’s confidence in these athletes doesn’t mean he’s ruling out an unprecedented fifth straight Olympic appearance for Diaz, who will be 33 by the time of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Kung talagang kaya ng katawan ni Hidy sa Paris, she will be 33 at that time, puwede siyang mag-medalya muli, pero mag-sasakripisyo siya,” Puentevella said.

“But if she retires, she will be our national women’s coach for sure. No one can compare with her and she will teach the four young lifters that are coming up.”

Puentevella challenged Ando, Sarno, Macrohon, and Ramos to set Diaz’s sacrifice, discipline, and dedication she put in to claim the historic Olympic gold medal as motivation and example.

Dapat gayahin nila si Hidy who had no holidays, no Christmas, no New Year, no birthday celebrations while she was in Kuala Lumpur in training for the Tokyo Olympics,” he said.

With Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen set to return to Beijing and unlikely to come back full-time, Puentevella shared that Diaz and her Guamanian fitness and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo are scheduled to fly back to Malaysia in the third week of September to resume training.

“As the Olympic champion, Hidy wants to prepare hard for the world championships in Lima, Peru in November so she is going back with Julius to Malaysia in the third week of September to resume training,” he said.