KUALA LUMPUR: Olympian Nestor Colonia try to prove critics wrong in a make-or-break campaign for Team Philippines as he competes in the men’s 56kg division of the 29th Southeast Asian Games weightlifting competition Monday at MITEC Hall 11 here.
Philippine Weightlifting Federation (PWF) president Monico Puentevella said hopes were high for his lone athlete despite the fact that he was still recovering from a back surgery.
“It’s a make-or-break campaign for us,” said Puentevella, the former chairman of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
“We didn’t send any athlete because they didn’t pass the criteria. On the other hand, the organizers scrapped women’s events so our best lifter, Hidilyn Diaz, isn’t competing.”
Diaz, the silver medalist in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, however, is in town to cheer for her good friend, Colonia, who will see action starting 11 a.m.
“I’m here to cheer for him,” said Diaz, who flew in Sunday and wasted no time to go to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center to support Filipino athletes seeing action in billiards, tae kwon do and judo.
Colonia is a well-experienced lifter.
Besides competing in the Olympics, Colonia also won the gold medal in the Asian Championships in 2015 and finished third in the clean and jerk event of the 2015 World and 2016 Asian Championship that served as his ticket to the Summer Games.
He also recorded a lift of 121kg in the snatch and 153kg in the clean and jerk two years ago to bag the gold medal in the Asian level.
But it was all downhill from there as Colonia suffered several heart-breaking finishes, including that of the Olympics.
Puentevella said Colonia could follow Diaz’s footsteps.
“He could be like Hidilyn,” he said. “But first, he has to prove that he has what it takes to bounce back and remain with the national team.”