In her new role, Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo (middle photo) will have a wider view of her sport — and the problems hounding it. (File photo from Agence France-Presse)
Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo notched another milestone in her storied career as weightlifting world champion and Olympic gold medalist.
The nation’s first golden performer at the Olympics has gained more influence at the highest echelon of her sport globally when Diaz-Naranjo joined the powerful International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Executive Board (EB).
The four-time Olympian who claimed the gold in the women’s 55 kilogram at the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games sat for the first time in the 10-man IWF EB during a recent online meeting.
“I just observed and listened to our discussions in the IWF EB. We just met recently and I’ll try to see how can I be of help,’’ Diaz-Naranjo told the Inquirer.
Diaz-Naranjo, who also bagged a silver medal during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, will be working for weightlifters from around the world in her new designation, together with fellow athletes Forrester Osei of Ghana and Luisa Peters, a retired lifter from the Cook Islands.
Osei retained the leadership of the IWF Athletes Commission during its election last month while Diaz-Naranjo is the vice chair of the 10-member commission.
“I can see that EB officials truly have the heart for weightlifting. We’ll be looking to work on the problems for the progress of our sport,’’ said Diaz-Naranjo, whose massive social media following of 270,000 can help get the message of the weightlifting federation across.
IWF president Mohamed Jalood hailed the move to install the three athlete commission representatives in the EB as a historic moment in the sport, pointing out that the IWF becomes the first international federation to achieve such a level of athlete representation.
It was a step in the right direction as weightlifting entered a crucial phase in its history when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) initially scratched off the sport in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics program due to ongoing doping concerns among some of the IWF’s athletes.
Sadly, weightlifting’s proposed removal in Los Angeles came at a time when Philippine weightlifting has been thriving on the international front.
Hoping to follow Hidilyn’s footsteps toward greatness are Asian champion Vanessa Sarno, Tokyo Olympian Elreen Ando, Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Kristel Macrohon and world junior gold performer Rosegie Ramos, among others.
The IOC, which organizes the quadrennial Olympics, decided to provisionally strike off weightlifting in the LA program along with boxing and modern pentathlon.