Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo missed out on a medal in the Asian Weightlifting Championships 2023 after finishing fourth in the 59kg category held in Jinju, South Korea. Despite missing out on a podium finish, Diaz-Naranjo remained on track with her bid for a second Olympic gold medal, staying within the classification circle for the Paris Olympic Games.
China’s Luo Shifang won gold with a total of 238kgs followed by compatriot Pei Yinxi with 236kgs for silver while Chinese-Taipei’s Kuo Hsing-Chun took bronze with 230 kgs. Diaz-Naranjo lifted a total of 221kgs in both snatch and clean and jerk but couldn’t outperform her rivals from China and Chinese-Taipei.
It was Diaz-Naranjo’s first appearance in the Asian tilt since 2021 when she likewise placed fourth in the 55kg division that also served as part of preparations for her eventual gold medal feat in the Tokyo Olympics. Diaz-Naranjo won the country’s first gold medal in the Olympics when she ruled the 55kg class in Tokyo, but her division was scrubbed off, forcing her to shift to a heavier weight.
Elreen Ando, who slid to 59kg after her 64kg division was also scrapped for the Paris Games, started out strong, finishing behind Luo, Pei, Kuo, and Diaz-Naranjo in the snatch with a 99kg lift but faded in clean and jerk. Ando had no successful lifts in all three attempts of 125kgs in the clean and jerk after posting 99 in snatch.
Rose Jean Ramos won a silver medal in the 45kg division. Ramos’ total of 161kgs was enough to put her on the podium, behind winner Chayuttra Pramongkhol of Thailand with 177kgs.
Weightlifters in all weight divisions are looking to finish inside the top eight to automatically qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Despite finishing out of a medal, Diaz-Naranjo remained on track with her bid for a second Olympic gold medal, staying within the classification circle for the Paris Olympic Games.
Diaz-Naranjo will have work to do, however, after a total lift of 221kg. Chinese lifters Luo Shifang and Pei Xinyi took gold and silver, respectively with total lifts of 238kg and 236kg—standards Diaz-Naranjo will now have to focus as targets. Taiwanese lifter Kuo Hsing-Chun, who owns the world records of the division, finished third with a 230-kg total.
As a rule, only one athlete per country will qualify outright. The weightlifting competition at the Asian Games is considered to be one of the most challenging and competitive events. Despite the loss, Diaz-Naranjo and the rest of the Philippine team will continue to train and prepare for upcoming competitions, including the Paris Olympics, with the hopes of bringing home more medals for the country.