By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year could well be the last for top Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and she is determined to make it the best yet for her in the event she qualifies for the quadrennial sporting spectacle.

Currently in Malaysia training, Ms. Diaz, 30, a silver medallist in the Rio Olympics in 2016, shared that she and her team, collectively named “Team HD,” are steadily working to see their goals of qualifying and winning an Olympic gold through.

Tokyo will be the fourth consecutive Olympic Games if ever for the Zamboanga City native.

“Tokyo 2020 plus 1 will be my fourth consecutive Olympics and could well be my last, which is why I really want to do my best for my last Olympics with the help of the people behind me,” said Ms. Diaz in her session at the recent Sport for Women’s Empowerment & Employment Program (S.W.E.E.P.) online conference organized by the Sport Management Council of the Philippines.

Ms. Diaz went on to say that officially she is not yet qualified for the Olympics, but is set to formalize her entry into it by competing at the Asian weightlifting championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in April.

Part of the requirements for Olympic qualification is to play in six international competitions, something she is set to complete.

Ms. Diaz has been in Malaysia for 13 months now and admitted that training is not without its challenges, which is why she is very thankful to be surrounded by like-minded people in Team HD, who have been with her every step of the way as she makes her Olympic push.

“Sports is not all about the wins. You have to put in the hard work and perseverance. You have to be disciplined and consistent. It is not to easy maintain a good standing in the qualifiers. One day, you are up and the next, you are trailing. So you really have to train smart. I’m lucky to be with people I trust and have the same vision as I am in Team HD. They guide me and help me prepare,” Ms. Diaz said.

Adding, “They are also part of the reason why I want to do well in the Olympics.”

Part of her team are strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro, sports psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad, and Chinese weightlifting coach Kaiwen Gao. She, too, is being supported by the MVP Sports Foundation.

“Making it to the Olympics is every athlete’s dream. All those who compete there are high-caliber athletes so you really have to be ready. But I cannot win on my own. I need the people in my team,” she said.

Despite a rough year in 2020 because of the pandemic, Ms. Diaz still shone, fashioning out a three-gold sweep in the women’s 55 kg. division of the Roma Weightlifting World Cup in Italy just before the pandemic. She also copped an online international title in July.