Hidilyn Diaz dispels retirement talks, eyes 2024 Paris Olympics

TOKYO OLYMPICS gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz with FilAm coach and husband Julius Naranajo from Guam: Diaz eyes gold in Paris Olympics

QUEZON CITY – It’s official: The country’s first Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz wants to compete in the next summer games in Paris in 2024.

After months of uncertainty about competing, the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist made the announcement in an Instagram and other social media posts by way of welcoming the new year.

In her Instagram post, Diaz shared a photo of her and members of her Team HD holding together a small statue of the Eiffel Tower.

Her caption reads: “New Year. New Beginning. New Goal.”

Diaz also used hashtags #paris2024, #olympics, #olympicweightlifting, and #TeamHDiaz

After making history last year for winning the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the Tokyo Summer Games, Diaz had said she was unsure if her body and mental health could still take another try in the international sporting event.

In recognition of her victory, Diaz received cash incentives, properties, and lifetime free flights and gas supply from the public and private sector worth about P80 million.

Diaz also won another “gold” in October last year after she got engaged to her partner and American Guamenian coach Julius Naranjo.

Naranjo also confirmed in social media the Zamboanga City native’s goal for Paris, France in 2024.

“We know this is clear, our goals, our aspirations,” wrote Naranjo. “Everything is achievable because we will manifest it, and work for it.”

“The first gold medal for the Philippines is not enough for our advocacy, and what we are trying to do for weightlifting and sports in the Philippines.”

Diaz remained initially mum on her possible return for the Paris Olympics games.

The star weightlifter and Philippine sports hero dispelled immediate retirement rumors after her engagement with her boyfriend coach by committing to compete in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in May and the 19th Asian Games in Vietnam in September.

The one-time Asiad and SEA Games gold medalist, however, skipped the 2021 World Weightlifting Championships last December 7 to 17, 2021, and instead opted to continue her training.

“[Hidilyn’s] journey is inspiring for many, but we know our job isn’t finished yet,” Naranjo continued in his post which Rappler reported.

“Onto our next goals for 2022, up until 2024,” he wrote. (Jeanne Michael Penaranda)