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Tokyo Olympics could be Hidilyn Diaz's last competition, says weightlifting chief

Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella bared that he had given Filipina champion Hidilyn Diaz a piece of advice: 'You owe it to yourself to enjoy life'.

The longtime sports official said Diaz is already at the tail end of her fruitful career and shared it is uncertain whether the 30-year-old and four-time Olympian will see action in the Vietnam SEA Games, which was indefinitely postponed to next year.

Puentevella stressed Diaz has sacrificed a lot for the flag and that she deserves to enjoy life after weightlifting like building her own family.

And if ever Diaz takes Puentevella's advice to heart, her looming Tokyo Olympics appearance will be her last competition, leaving behind a legendary career that saw her snare a silver medal in the 2016 Rio edition.

"It's too much for her. She has sacrificed many years of her life for the country and I have given her advice that 'you owe it to yourself to enjoy life'," Puentevella told GMA News Online in an interview.

"Now that the Vietnam SEA Games has been postponed, and we don't know when that will be staged next year, I'm not sure if Hidilyn will still compete in the SEA Games."

Puentevella was already around when Diaz first suited up for the Philippines in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and he had seen her bloom into one of the country's finest athletes.

In the SEA Games stage, the soldier-athlete copped her first gold medal after topping the 55-kg division in the 2019 biennial meet that was held on home soil.

She also delivered a gold medal during the 2018 Asian Games after dominating her foes in the women's 53 kilogram event.

With these feats, Puentevella said it's time for Diaz to pass the torch to the future lifters like Elreen Ando who, incidentally, will also compete in this year's Olympics.

"Hidilyn has made big sacrifices and if ever she decides to get married and build her own family, I will not blame her and I will even be happy for her," Puentevella added.

"And we have to thank her because she really inspired a lot of young Filipinos to try the sport and look, we now have another Olympian in Elreen."

Diaz and Ando are among the 19 athletes competing in the Tokyo Games where the weightlifting events are set to take place from July 24 to August 4 at the Tokyo International Forum.

Diaz, who has been training in Malaysia since the start of the pandemic, and Ando will both arrive in Tokyo on July 18.

—JMB, GMA News