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Philippines eyes 4 weightlifters in Paris Olympics

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine weightlifting is hoping and praying it will have its “Fantastic Four” in the Paris Olympics this July.

The country is pinning its hopes that four of the seven-strong national team headed by Tokyo silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz would earn a berth to the quadrennial games as they compete in the International Weightlifting Federation World Cup unfurling today in Phuket, Thailand.

Needing to make the top 10 and participate in at least five Olympic qualifying events, Diaz is on course to make her fifth appearance in the quadrennial meet as she is currently ninth in the women’s 59-kilogram division.

Phuket is the last Olympic qualifying event.

She, however, was fighting countrywoman Elreen Ando tooth and nail as the Cebu City native is competing in the same class and is not that far behind being 11th there.

Also eyeing a place in the Paris sun are Vanessa Sarno, who is sixth in the women’s 71kg, John Febuar Ceniza, ninth in the men’s 61kg, and Rosegie Ramos, 12th in the women’s 49kg.

Kristel Macrohon (71kg), a Southeast Asian Games gold winner, and Lovely Inan (59kg), also flew with the team and are both hoping for miracles to improve their rankings and make the cut.

“Last qualifying na sa Phuket, maintain lang placing sa top 10,” said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella.

“Unfortunately, close fight pa si Hidilyn at si Ando, plus two kilos lang si Hidi (Diaz). Maging apat na sila for Paris,” he added.