Diaz, Chinese coach part ways
CEBU CITY, Philippines– Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez believes that they may have a hard time getting the services again of Chinese weightlifting coach Gao Kaiwen, the head coach of Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.
In a press release from the PSC, Ramirez said that Diaz’s gold medal run in Tokyo would likely result in a flood of offers from wealthy countries that wants his services.
“The weightlifting world is now looking at Coach Gao,” Ramirez told Filipino reporters on Friday. “Mind you, his credentials now look brighter with Hidilyn’s success here.”
Gao made himself all the more popular when Diaz revealed that his compatriots are mad at him for not sharing the extent of her strength and how much weight she can lift.
In a thrilling showdown for the gold medal in the women’s -55kg division on Monday evening, Diaz beat eventual silver medalist and former No. 1 Qiuyun Liao of China.
Diaz lifted a total of 224kg, a new Olympic record.
Gao has reportedly said his goodbye to Diaz and the rest of the team saying he wants to return to his family in China despite the threats that he’s been receiving from his compatriots for training Diaz.
Gao’s contract will expire in December 2021. He could’ve had one last stint with Diaz if the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) wasn’t moved to 2022 due to the rising COVID-19 cases in the host country Vietnam.
Before Diaz, Gao also coached Chinese Zhou Lulu who won gold in the women’s +75 kgs division in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Gao is one of several foreign coaches who handled Filipino athletes at the Tokyo Olympics.
Among them are Uzbekistan’s Shukhrat Ganiev for rower Cris Nievarez, Ukrainian Vitaly Petrov for pole vaulter EJ Obiena and Australian Don Abnett for boxers Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Felix Marcial, Carlo Paalam, and Irish Magno.
Gao, according to PSC chief of staff Marc Velasco, receives a monthly salary of $2,500, with his contract expiring December 31 this year.
Abnett, on the other hand, gets $5,000 a month, although the rate wasn’t consistent during the pandemic year 2021, Velasco said.
Ramirez said Gao, like all the other foreign coaches in the PSC payroll, was recommended by the sport’s national association, the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas.
“Compared to the other countries which offer as much as $10,000 a month for their athletes’ foreign coaches, there are no guarantees that Coach Gao would be remaining with Hidilyn in case she returns to training for the Paris 2024 Olympics,” Ramirez said. /WITH PR
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