Now part of the Cesafi, weightlifting can finally get the exposure it needs
While Filipinos continue to struggle internationally in sports that are popular in the Philippines, there is one sport where the average Pinoy can actually excel in — weightlifting.
This was proven when Hidilyn Diaz, a 5-feet-2 airwoman from Zamboanga City, bagged a gold in the 53-kilogram category of women’s weightlifting in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, last week. Diaz also won a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Despite the success of Diaz, the sport still hasn’t gained much popularity. Not even in Cebu.
But that may change soon as the sport will finally be making its debut in the Cebu Schools Athletics Foundation Inc (Cesafi).
National Team coach Ramon Solis and the rest of his University of Cebu (UC) weightlifting team are excited with this development, which he hopes will give the sport the needed exposure.
“I am very thankful to sir (Felix) Tiukinhoy for giving attention to weightlifting and giving the athletes a chance to expose their skills. This is very important because we truly have a chance to excel in the world stage, Hidilyn Diaz proved it,” said the 58-year-old veteran weightlifter Solis, who coached Diaz in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In a tiny 20-square-meter gym at the back of the famed Cebu Coliseum, one can find Solis and his dedicated group of UC weightlifters honing their skills for the upcoming competition.
“The inclusion of this sport in the Cesafi will surely improve the quality of the weightlifting because what it lacks the most is exposure,” said Solis.
Tiukinhoy, the long-time commissioner of the Cesafi, also plays a vital role in reviving the sport in Cebu. He is also the president of the Cebu Weightlifting association (CWA).
“We are trying to develop potential lifters who were not given importance before. We have not developed potential lifters that is why we are very encouraged to include weightlifting in Cesafi and be proud of it because we are the only league in the entire country to have weightlifting as part of the main competition,” said Tiukinhoy. “I believe that it will improve the quality of weightlifting in Cebu because it will create enthusiasm and exposure.”
The Cesafi weightlifting competition is tentatively scheduled in December. Aside from UC, also expected to compete are the University of San Carlos, Southwestern University-Phinma, Cebu Institute of Technology-University, and the University of San Jose-Recoletos.
Despite the lack of exposure, the sport has actually had some success locally. Proof of this is the inclusion of UC’s varsity lifter Elreen Ann Ando in the national team.
The 19-year-old Ando competed in the 2018 Asian Games, too, but barely missed the podium in the women’s 63-kilogram category. She placed fourth in her first stint in the quadrennial event.
Currently, Cebu actually has six national team members training at the UC weightlifting training center, including Ando. That number may rise now that the sport gets its needed exposure in the Cesafi.
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