By JONAS TERRADO
Hidilyn Diaz fought off the challenge of Thailand’s Tanasan Sanikun to successfully retain the gold Friday in the women’s 55kg weightlifting category of the Southeast Asian Games.
Diaz registered a total lift of 206kgs in snatch and clean and jerk, enough to edge out her fellow Olympic gold medalist in the event held at the Hanoi Sports Training and Competition Center.
The victory repeated Diaz’s feat back in the 2019 edition held in Manila when she claimed her first gold in the regional meet.
In getting back to the top podium, the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist produced an early momentum-builder in her quest to win another one in the 2024 Games in Paris.
“My journey towards Paris (Olympics) starts here, so this SEA Games gold is very important for me,” said the 31-year-old Diaz. “Napaka-meaningful nito (SEAG). After winning the gold medal, bumalik pa din ako, nakapag-deliver ng gold medal for the Philippines. Masaya ako na nandito ako ulet ako sa SEA Games, na i-represent ang Pilipinas.”
Tanasan, who won the Olympic gold in the 49kg class in Rio back in 2016, settled for silver with a total lift of 203kgs.
As expected, Tanasan gave the 31-year-old Filipina a run for her money, leading at the end of snatch with a SEA Games record of 93kgs.
Diaz was second at 92kgs which came on her second attempt. She tried but failed to lift 94kgs on her final try.
Tanasan completed 104 and 110 in clean and jerk before Diaz was able to lift 114 on her first attempt.
The Thai went for 114 on her third and final attempt, but she couldn’t complete the lift which assured Diaz of a gold.
Diaz wasn’t able to complete her final two lifts of 118 and 121, the latter which would have set a SEA Games mark, but those tries had no effect on the outcome.
Indonesia’s Natasya Beteyob took home the bronze with a total of 188kgs.