HIDILYN Diaz emerged the winner in a battle of Olympic champions to retain her title in the 55-kilogram weightlifting category Friday in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Diaz’s victory provided one of the three gold medals that added to the country’s medal harvest for the day. The other two came from esports and judo.
It also provided a bright note on a day when the Philippines slid to fifth place in the medal standings.
Diaz, who gave the country’s its first Olympic gold medal, in Tokyo last year, lifted 92 kg in the snatch and 114 kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 206 kg, 3 kilos more than the tally of 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist Sanikun Tanasan of Thailand.
Diaz was trailing Sanikun in the snatch after failing to clear 93 kg. The Thai then lifted 110 kg in her second attempt in the clean and jerk, but Diaz wiped out the Thai’s lead by raising 114 kg in her first attempt.
Sanikun tried to match the Filipino’s lift but was unable to do so in her third attempt.
Diaz tried to add the icing to her cake by going for a new SEA Games record of 121 kg. She failed but still managed a smile.
Natasya Beteyob of Indonesia lifted 188 kg to finish third.
Diaz said later winning at the SEA Games was just the beginning of her quest for a third Olympic gold.
“My journey toward Paris [Olympics] starts here, so this SEA Games gold is very important for me,” she said.
Diaz admitted having struggled while training for the Hanoi Games because of commitments she had to attend to after her Olympic victory.
At the Vietnam National Convention Center, Team Sibol bagged the second gold medal for the esports team with a victory in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB).
Team Sibol defeated Indonesia, 3-1, in the best-of-five final series.
The Philippines earlier downed Singapore, 2-1, while Indonesia beat Malaysia, 2-0, in the semifinals to arrange the championship showdown.
The Philippine MLBB team is composed of Jonar Villanueva (captain), Russel Aron Usi, Kyle Dominic Soto, Dexter Louise Alaba, Danerie James Del Rosario, Salic Imam and Lee Howard Gonzales.
Team Sibol won its first gold medal last Wednesday in the Legends: Wild Rift (Mobile) women’s team event.
At the Hoai Duc Gymnasium, Filipino Japanese judoka Shugen Nakano ruled the men’s 66 kg category as he defeated hometown bet Hoang Phuc Truong, 1-0, in their final match to retain the title he won at the 2019 Manila Games.
Thailand settled for the bronze medal following a 1-0 win over Cambodia.
It was Singapore who dislodged the Philippines from fourth place in the standings.
As of 8 p.m. on Friday, the country had collected 42 golds, 59 silvers and 80 bronzes.
Still on top was host Vietnam with a 162-97-92 medal tally. followed by Thailand (65-73-105), Indonesia (47-66-63) and Singapore (47-44-62).
The Philippines, however, remains on track for snagging the coveted gold in basketball. Undefeated Gilas Pilipinas tries to move closer to retaining the men’s title when it battles Malaysia at 11 a.m. at the Than Tri Gymnasium on Saturday.
“We all know that the big test is Indonesia, but we can’t look past Malaysia. We’ve been watching. ‘Yung Malaysian [team] sa atin nagpatigas ‘yan (toughened up after they played us). They played in the Philippines and we really like the way they play,” Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said.
The team’s final game will be against Indonesia on Sunday.
In billiards, the Philippines is assured of two more golds since the final matches in women’s and men’s 10-ball singles will be all-Filipino affairs.
Chezka Centeno and Rubilen Amit downed their respective rivals in the semis to arrange a showdown for the women’s title, while 9-ball singles gold medalist Johann Chua and Carlo Biado duel for the men’s crown after ousting their Singaporean opponents in the semis.
Story Source: LEAN MALANUM (The Manila Times)
Featured Image Source: AFP