Philippine weightlifting has unearthed two gems that can complement its accomplished women’s team long headlined by reigning Olympic champion Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo.

Prince Keil delos Santos and Eron Borres outshone everybody else in the men’s 49-kilogram (kg) division in the 2023 International Weightlifting Federation World Youth Championships on Sunday in Durres, Albania, revealing brighter prospects for the nation in future elite meets.

This gifted pair of 16-year-olds seized the three gold medals available between them, with Delos Santos topping the snatch with a 92-kg effort and the total (205-kgs), while Borres asserted himself in the clean and jerk with an effort of 114 kgs.

“This is the future of Philippine weightlifting. The boys have finally arrived. It’s always been the girls and women, now we’re fighting to be the world’s best even in the boys and men’s category,’’ Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella told the Inquirer.

Both discoveries from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC)-Batang Pinoy Championships, Delos Santos and Borres nearly swept all the golds and silvers in their weight bracket, except in the snatch where India’s Dhanush Loganathan managed to steal second place (88 kgs).

‘Our future’

Delos Santos, a prized find by coach Richard Agosto in Manila, got the silver in the clean and jerk (113 kgs) while the Cebu-based Borres, whose coach is Gary Hortelano, wound up with the silver in the total (201 kgs) and bronze in the snatch (87 kgs), besting 12 other lifters around the world.

Loganathan struck two bronzes in the clean and jerk (112 kgs) and total (200 kgs) apart from the snatch silver.

“We’re lucky to have good coaches. This is a world championship, our future,’’ said Puentevella, emphasizing that the trip to Albania won’t be possible without the help of the PSC, the MVP Sports Foundation and SM.

The arrival of Borres and Delos Santos came at a time when the women’s team has been consistently bagging accolades in both global and continental competitions with Diaz-Naranjo clinching the first Olympic gold for the country at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Following Diaz-Naranjo’s path toward greatness are Asian champion Vanessa Sarno, Tokyo Olympian Elreen Ando, Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Kristel Macrohon and world junior gold performer Rosegie Ramos, among others. INQ

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