Hidilyn Diaz is out to end her “Thai curse” in the weightlifting event of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, which starts Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium inside Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila.
Thailand and host Philippines lead the cast of eight nations that include Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam, which are trying to dominate the four-day competition, which will end Wednesday.
At stake in the event are 10 gold medals — six in the women’s and four in the men’s division. The Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia are among the top bets in their respective categories.
The 28-year-old Diaz is aiming for her first gold in the SEA Games; and has just won two bronzes in the 2019 IWF World Championship in Pattaya, Thailand. She faces a challenge in the women’s 55-kg from 20-year-old Khambao Surodchana of Thailand; and 17-year-old Indonesian Juliana Klarissa, a 10th finisher in the 2019 World championship in Suva, Fiji.
Also in the same weight division is Vietnam’s Nguyin Thi Thuy, a fifth placer in the 2019 World Cup in China and 6th finisher in the 2019 Asian Championship in Ningbo, China.
In the first day of action — also featuring the Philippines’ John Fabliar Ceniza (55-kg) and Mary Flor Diaz (45-kg) — the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz will display her wares Monday. Meanwhile, fellow Olympian Nestor Colonia follows suit on Tuesday in the 67-kg. Men’s division.
Apart from the heavy loaded women’s 55-kg category, the rest will be vying for gold in the 45-kg, 49-kg, 59-kg, 64-kg and 71-kg in the women’s division; as well as 55-kg, 61-kg, 67-kg and 73-kg in the men’s class.
Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella will also pin his hopes on Elreen Rose Perez (49-kg), Margaret Colonia (59-kg), Elreen Ann Ando (64-kg), and Kristel Macrohon (71-kg) in the women’s division and Dave Lloyd Pacaldo (61-kg).
“In the SEA Games, we’re aiming at least four to five medals. I am hoping that we will get at least one or two medals in the men’s and four medals in the women’s class,” said Puentevella.