Lifter Selected As Olympic Flag-Bearer

Apart from the heavy burden of winning a medal, female weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz will also carry the flag when the 11-man Philippine team marches in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics on July 27, the Philippine Olympic Committee bared yesterday.

Diaz, 21, is among the country's best-kept secrets in the small delegation that includes two representatives each from athletics, archery and swimming and one apiece from boxing, shooting, judo and cycling (BMX).

Born and bred in Zamboanga City, Diaz secured a berth in the July 27 to Aug. 12 quadrennial event following her strong showing in the world championships in Paris last year where she placed seventh and in the Asian championships in Korea where she landed fourth.

London will be Diaz's second Olympics after making her debut in Beijing four years ago.

Diaz and six other athletes - boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, tracksters Marestela Torres and Rene Herrera, shooter Brian Rosario, swimmers Jessie Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi - have been honing their skills in England since last week.

Joining them there soon are judo's Tomohiko Hoshina, BMXer Daniel Caluag and archers Mark Javier and Rachel Cabral.

The Philippines is nursing hopes of putting an end to the monotony of losses in the last three Olympics.

The last time the country brought home a medal was in the 1996 Games in Atlanta when Onyok Velasco settled for the silver in boxing.

Officials are pinning their hopes on Barriga and Caluag, as well as Diaz, to end the medal drought that covered Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008).

CHINESE TEAM

In Beijing, China has announced a team of 396 athletes for the London Olympics, a far smaller delegation than four years ago when it topped the gold medal table on home soil.

The team, which includes 29 gold medallists from the Beijing Games, will be seeking to maintain China's status as an Olympic powerhouse. -With a report from AFP

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