Hidilyn Diaz gears up for Asian indoor tilt, sets sights on 2019 SEA Games

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — In her first major event since winning a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz will compete in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan next month.

Diaz will again compete in the 53-kilogram category, the same weight class she competed in when she made history for the Philippines in Rio de Janeiro last year.

“Nasa 90 to 100% na ako,” Diaz told reporters in Kuala Lumpur, where she flew in to support fellow weightlifter Nestor Colonia in the Southeast Asian Games.

“Ang problema ko na lang is body weight ko,” added Diaz, who further explained that she still needs to lose almost eight kilograms after going up 61 kilograms during her down time.

The three-time Olympian is confident she can make the weight in time for the indoor games, which is held every four years.

“Kaya naman, disiplina lang talaga,” Diaz said.

While some think that Diaz has nothing left to prove after her triumph in the Olympics last year, the 26-year-old says she has only become more determined than ever to excel in her sport.

“Gusto kong manalo,” she said. “Gusto kong patunayan sa sarili ko na kaya ko pa, na hindi ako magre-relax. (Lalaban ako) para sa country, oo, pero para sa sarili ko rin at sa tiwala kay God.”

Besides the indoor games, Diaz is also looking forward to representing the Philippines in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which the country will be hosting.

Diaz has won a bronze and two silver medals in the SEA Games, but has not yet gotten a chance to stand atop the podium. Weightlifting was not a SEA Games event two years ago in Singapore, and though it was included in the program this year in Kuala Lumpur, there were no events for women.

For Diaz, not competing in the SEA Games gave her more time to prepare for her stint in Ashgabat, though she admits that she missed the “vibe” of the regional tournament.

“Noong send-off party, sabi ko, ang saya talaga ‘pag SEA Games kasi regional, tapos ang daming athlete na magkakasama,” said Diaz, who won silver in 2011 in Jakarta, back when she was competing at a higher weight class.

“So iba talaga ang ambiance ‘pag SEA Games,” she added. “Na-miss ko.”

“Tapos, kapag nakikita ko ‘yung flag, sabi ko, ‘Kailangan kaya ako makakauwi ng gold medal para sa Pilipinas sa SEA Games?’ Sa 2019 sana,” she said.

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