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Hidilyn Diaz turns target to Asian Games, SEA Games, World Cup; unsure for Paris 2024

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz plans to participate in even more competitions leading to next year, before deciding whether or not to continue with weightlifting.

Speaking on the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) online forum on Thursday, the Philippines' first Olympic gold medalist said she will be back to training in Malaysia soon for three major meets.

"I will still play in the [International Weightlifting Federation] World Championships this year, in the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), and the Asian Games, then assess if my body can still take it," shared the 30-year-old, just three days after ending her country's near-century-long golden drought.

"I can't say for now if I will participate in Paris 2024, because the qualifying will be changed and was trimmed to 120 people. If I can still do it, why not?" she added.

The Weightlifting World Cup will be held in Lima, Peru in November, while the Vietnam SEA Games had been postponed from its supposed start also in November. Asia's biggest continental sporting meet, on the other hand, will be staged in Hangzhou, China in September 2022.

Diaz won gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and the 2019 SEA Games in Manila.

It is yet to be determined whether or not the COVID-19 situation improves when those competitions come along, or they would be very much like the Olympiad where Diaz won before a small number of people at the Tokyo International Forum.

"It was kind of weird since it had been my fourth Olympics already, but at least it pushed through. We are thankful for Japan for letting it happen," she said, adding that she was as prepared as she ever was heading into the world meet for she set her eyes on the top prize ever since she won silver in 2016.

"I now appreciate it more, it made me more emotional. [The Olympics] will finally be reality, so the whole day, I was crying. Just the simple waves from the Japanese residents while I was on the bus already made me happy. For me, even if there's an audience or not, I'm happy," she added.

Presently, Diaz is quarantining for nine more days at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila after arriving from Tokyo yesterday. When that's over, it's more than likely she would fly to her hometown Zamboanga to be re-united with her family, whom she had not personally seen for over 18 months.

And for the Filipino Olympians still wearing the flag in Japan, Diaz had a short but sweet message.

"Even though I'm not there, I know you can do it. I'm here watching, supporting you all," she expressed, with a smile and while wearing a shirt that had the disputed West Philippine Sea imprinted on it.

Asked about her attire for the day, the history-making Filipina, who was also promoted to Air Force staff sergeant, reiterated her belief that no single country can claim ownership of the large body of water known internationally as the South China Sea.

"From what I know, what's ours is ours. I want to shout that it's ours. Of course, we can't personally meddle in international disputes of numerous countries, but I want to say that the [West Philippine Sea] is ours," explained Diaz.

Philippine bets remaining in medal contention in the Tokyo Olympics include boxers Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Marcial, and Carlo Paalam; gymnast Carlos Yulo; pole vaulter EJ Obiena; swimmer Luke Gebbie; and golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Juvic Pagunsan.