Hidilyn Diaz had given the Philippines its first Olympic gold medal. She might have spared the country from losing another potential Games champion.
Vanessa Sarno, who Diaz had handpicked as her possible heir apparent, admitted she had nearly lost her passion for weightlifting until she had a chat with the Tokyo Games star recently.
“She is … a great motivator,” Sarno, 18, said of Diaz during an interview with the Inquirer. “Before [the] tryouts [for the team to the Southeast Asian Games (SEA)], I suddenly lost motivation. But I got a chance to talk to her. Her words really encouraged me to continue my dream.”
And what a loss it would have been if Sarno had given up on the sport.
‘Stronger than me’
Diaz had previously told journalists that Sarno, an Asian senior and junior champion, was one of the young lifters in the country who could follow the path she took to sporting immortality.
“I’m actually seeing a lot of Filipino weightlifters who are stronger than me,” Diaz said. “I can see Vanessa Sarno. She’s competing in 71 kilograms.”
Sarno won two golds and a silver in last year’s Asian championships, making her a favorite in the 71-kilogram women’s competition in this year’s SEA Games in Vietnam, where she will be looking for her first gold in the biennial meet.
“I will do everything to win my first gold in the SEA Games,” Sarno said.
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