Hidilyn Diaz wins PH’s 1st Olympic Gold


On July 26, 30-year-old Zamboanga native Hidilyn Diaz carved for herself a place in history, winning for the Philippines its first-ever gold medal in the Olympics in 97 years.

Diaz, a sergeant at the Philippine Air Force, competed in the 55-kg weightlifting category and managed to boost a combined weight of 224 kilograms (494 pounds), beating out China’s Liao Quiyun who won silver with 223 kg and Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo with 213 kg.

She was previously a silver medalist in the 2016 Summer Games held in Rio, Brazil. She had also won three silver medals in the 2019 Asian Weightlifting Championship in China.

In 2019, Diaz experienced financial hardship during training and took to social media to ask her supporters if it was acceptable for her to ask for financial support or sponsorships from private companies.

She wrote on social media: “Is it okay to ask sponsorship sa mga private companites towards Tokyo 2020? Hirap na hirap na ako, I need financial support. Sa tingin niyo okay lang kaya, Nahihiya kasi ako pero try ko kapalan mukha ko para sa minimithi kong pangarap para sa atin bansa na maiuwi ang gold medal sa Olympics.”

In the same year, the government also included her in a so-called ‘matrix’, tagging her as among those involved in a plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte. However, after her win, Malacañang Palace not only did not issue any apology for it, but shared in her victory.

Presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo in a statement said: “Her feat makes us Filipinos proud. Her getting the gold is a testament to the Filipino race’s talent and indefatigable spirit. It serves as an inspiration to all Filipino athletes that getting the gold in the Olympics is no longer a dream but a reality.”

PHOTO: GMA Network

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque echoed Panelo’s sentiments and maintains that no such accusation was made against Diaz. However, shortly after the diagram was released, Diaz took to Facebook asking the matrix’s creators to “not drag the name of someone who is busy sacrificing everything for the Philippines…” but include her name in “a baseless matrix.”

In the months leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, Diaz had been stranded in Malaysia as she and her team were on their way to Peru.

In November last year, Diaz posted a video of herself on Instagram, where she can be seen practicing lifting two big water bottles attached to a wooden stick.

In response to her, the Philippine Sports Commission said that Diaz’s allowances were among the largest in the national pool. According to them, they had given her P4.5 million for her training in China and paid the monthly salary and food allowance of her Julius Kaiwen Gao, her coach.

PSC chairman Butch Ramirez noted as well that she received support from the PSC and the PAF as an enlisted personnel. She had also received P3 million under Republic Act No. 10699, or the government’s incentives act, for her silver and gold wins in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games and 2018 Asian Games, respectively.

Hidilyn Diaz is now set to get a total of P33 million in cash prizes from the government (P10 million) and the private sector (P23 million). Megaworld Corporation has also promised as a gift a P14-million condominium in Eastwood City. Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino, meanwhile, has also promised a house and lot in Tagaytay.

The Philippines first joined the Olympic Games in 1924, represented by David Nepomuceno who competed in the 100- and 200-meter sprints.

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