Hidilyn Diaz seventh Filipino athlete to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz formally clinched a spot at the Tokyo Olympics after finishing fourth in the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Sunday evening.

Diaz was just one kilogram behind third-placer Muattar Nabieva of the host country, finishing with a total of 212 kilograms, two short of her personal best. She lifted 94kg in the snatch and 118kg in the clean and jerk. Liao Qiuyun of China won gold with a 222kg finish, while compatriot Li Yajun ended up with a total of 221kg.

In the snatch, Diaz was not able to lift on her first try at 90kg, but found the mark in her second attempt. With the third attempt, she was able to cleanly lift 94kg.

In the clean and jerk, Diaz cleared 118kg in her first attempt. However, she failed to clear 121kg in her second attempt. The third and final attempt was also futile, as she was not able to cleanly lift 122kg.

For Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella, it was a mission accomplished for Diaz. "Let's move on to the ultimate challenge. The Tokyo Olympics. Her mission tonight was not to win, but to qualify. Congrats to Hidi and the whole RP lifters and our coaches," Puentevella told ESPN5.com.

The Zamboanga native completed the International Weightlifting Federation's requirement of competing in six Olympic qualifying events. She is currently ranked fifth in the IWF's rankings in the women's 55-kilogram category, but since the top four lifters are all from China and only one competitor for each weight class is allowed per country, Diaz is ranked second in the Olympic rankings. The top eight lifters automatically qualify for Tokyo.

The 2016 Olympic silver medalist became the seventh Filipino to make it to the Summer Games after pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxers Irish Magno, Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, and Carlo Paalam.

Diaz will also be participating in her fourth straight Olympiad, her first being in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It had been over a year since Diaz last competed. She clinched three golds in the 2020 Weightlifting World Cup in Italy in late January 2020.

Other Filipinos who competed in Uzbekistan include 2020 IWF Online Youth World Cup gold medalist Vanessa Sarno, Roma World Cup podium finisher John Fabuar Ceniza, 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Kristel Macrohon, Elreen Ann Ando, Mary Flor Diaz, Margaret Colonia, and John Dexter Tabique, and Elien Rose Perez.