By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) will begin this weekend in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, with Filipino Olympians Hidilyn Diaz and Kirstie Elaine Alora bannering the Philippines’ campaign.
Part of the country’s 100-plus delegation, both women said they are very determined to come up with a podium finish in their respective events to bring pride and honor to the country and at the same time provide further “motor” to do what they are doing.
Admitting to having a difficult time getting back to the grind of training after the long layoff she had after her silver medal-winning performance in last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 26-year-old weightlifter Diaz said that the about-to-begin indoor tournament carries much weight as far as her career goes not only for now but for the future as well.
“It is really challenge. After one year this will be my comeback. So during training there were a lot of questions on my part if I still have it in me. Whether I can match or even double what I did in Rio. I put a lot of sacrifices and discipline as I prepare for the AIMAG, so we will see,” Ms. Diaz shared to sportswriters at a luncheon meeting last week hosted by the College of St. Benilde, where Ms. Diaz is a Business Management student.
“I’m not really pressured of what others can do but it is more of me. I relaxed for four months after Rio so the comeback is filled with a lot of questions like what I have said. I really have to work hard to sustain the strength and discipline,” added Ms. Diaz, who also shared that she is using the 2017 AIMAG as one of the gauges if she would compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
But the competitor that she is, Ms. Diaz said the goal is always to do well in every competition she joins in.
“My goal is to have a podium finish, particularly to finish first. Some of my competitors in Rio will be there and I have seen them on their social media posts how they have been training hard. It’s a challenge but I’m willing to take it on,” said the Olympic medallist who is set to begin her campaign at the AIMAG in the women’s -53 kilogram (kg.) event on Sept. 19.
PAYBACK FOR ALORA
While Ms. Diaz had her struggles early in training, the case is the not the same for taekwondo jin Alora, who is to enter the AIMAG not lacking in motivation especially after the tough experience she had in the recent Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Ms. Alora, an Olympian in Rio in 2016, lost in the finals of the women’s kyorugi -73 kg. category to Cambodian Sorn Seavmey, 13-6, something that she is aching to make up for at the AIMAG.
The loss marked the fourth time that Ms. Alora, a Benildean alumna, lost to Ms. Seavmey in various tournaments.
“The loss hurt which was why I did not waste much time going back to training as soon as I got back from the SEA Games,” said Ms. Alora also during the luncheon meeting.
“I want to do well and beat Seavmey if I get to face her along the away. The SEA Games was a learning experience and I’m bent on using the lessons from it to do well in the competition,” added Ms. Alora, who is also to compete on Sept. 19 in the women’s -73 kg. category.
The 2017 AIMAG will run until Sept. 27.