OLYMPIAN. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz takes a break during her training in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Thursday (April 15, 2021). The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games silver medalist only needs to compete in the ongoing Asian Weightlifting Championships to become the seventh Filipino qualifier to the Tokyo Games this year. (Photo courtesy of Hidilyn Diaz Instagram)

MANILA - April will see at least two national teams in international meets pursuing their chances at Olympic slots.

The weightlifting squad, led by 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, left for Tashkent, Uzbekistan to participate in the Asian Weightlifting Championships, a qualifying event.

Diaz is joined by eight other hopefuls in the Asian tilt: 2020 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Online Youth World Cup gold medalist Vanessa Sarno, Roma World Cup podium finisher John Fabuar Ceniza, 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Kristel Macrohon, Elreen Ann Ando, Mary Flor Diaz, Margaret Colonia, John Dexter Tabique, and Elien Rose Perez.

The tournament will complete the six Olympic qualifying events required for Diaz to formally seal her Tokyo Olympics berth and become the seventh Philippine qualifier to the Games.

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) backed the weightlifters with over PHP4.9 million covering airfare, hotel accommodation, allowance, and other expenses from April 11 to 25.

The budget also includes almost PHP1 million for Diaz and her personal team composed of Chinese weightlifting coach Kaiwen Gao and strength and conditioning coach Julius Irvin Naranjo.

PSC Chair William Ramirez said the agency may be going through difficulties in resources, given the Covid-19 crisis, but its priorities are clear.

“It was never a question of supporting them or not because we will, as much as we can,” he said.

The triathlon team will also get nearly a million in financial assistance for its participation in the 2021 Asia Triathlon Championships in Hatsukaichi, Japan from April 23 to 25. (PR)