DURING the CNMI Weightlifting qualifier event on Saturday at Ada gym, Angel San Nicolas officially announced the establishment of HD Weightlifting CNMI, a branch of the Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Academy in the Philippines.
A weightlifter, Diaz is the first Filipino to ever win an Olympic gold medal for her country.
San Nicolas, a gold medalist in the 2022 Pacific Mini Games, said he is looking far into the future and hopes to spread weightlifting awareness in the CNMI.
“Our main focus is the youth,” he said, adding that several middle school students have already joined HD Weightlifting CNMI.
These young weightlifters proved their worth in the recent qualifier event: Kiien Manuel, Jaden Andrew, Sean Mateo, John Castro, Aiden Gimed and Anniegail Manuel.
“The public has never seen kids lift weights, [so our] the intent was to break barriers and remove the stigma that lifting weights is bad for kids,” San Nicolas said. “Kids can lift weights with proper training and emphasis on form and technique,” he added.
San Nicolas said his goal is to get the young weightlifters on the national CNMI team this year.
“At least a couple of them from HD Weightlifting CNMI should make the team,” San Nicolas said. “They have been working really hard and their technique is well-refined — it could be better, but they are ready. They put in the work and they deserve that platform.”
San Nicolas believes that Jaden Andrew, who trains six days a week, should be given the opportunity to compete in the youth world championships in Albania in March.
San Nicolas said the 11-year-old can squat a maximum weight of nearly 300 pounds.
“I intend to groom them until their senior level,” San Nicolas said, referring to the young weightlifters.
As an extended branch of the HD Weightlifting Academy in the Philippines, HD Weightlifting CNMI aims to bring in Hidylin Diaz to Saipan in the near future.
Diaz’s husband, Julius Naranjo of Guam, is also San Nicolas’s head coach.
Diaz “intends to come here as [we are] an extension of her club,” San Nicolas said. “This is one of the biggest names [in the sport] that the CNMI could ever get,” he added.
“I need the community to be behind us and support weightlifting,” he said.
One of their main supporters is GetFitCNMI. “I would like to thank and recognize Jose Quan and Jason Sablan of GetFitCNMI — they are a very big factor to the progress of the kids by providing them a gym for their training,” San Nicolas said.