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Olympic medalists Diaz, Marcial get heroes' welcome in Zamboanga City

Roel Pareño - Philstar.com
Olympic medalists Diaz, Marcial get heroes' welcome in Zamboanga City
A heroes' welcome and honors were given to Tokyo Olympics weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and men's boxing bronze medalist Eumir Marcial as they returned to Zamboanga City on September 1, 2021.
The STAR / Roel Pareño

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Tokyo 2020 Olympics weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and men's boxing bronze medalist Eumir Marcial came home to a heroes' welcome in Zamboanga City on Wednesday, their first time in their hometown since they arrived from Japan last month.

The two Zamboangueño Olympians arrived at Edwin Andrews Air Base Wednesday afternoon on a military plane from Manila. 

They went in a motorcade to R.T. Lim Boulevard where Diaz and Marcial put their hand prints on the Olympic markers put up for them.

Diaz gave the first Olympic medal to the country and led three other three other medalists, boxers Carlo Paalam (silver), Marcial (bronze), Nesthy Petecio (bronze) in the biggest medal haul since the Philippines started sending athletes to the Olympics.

Diaz and Marcial later motored towards city hall for a short program where they were lauded by the city government. Diaz received a check for P2.5 million while Marcial received P1 million and an additional P200,000 for representing the country at the Asian Elite Championships in Dubai in May.

Diaz and Marcial were both emotional as they greeted and addressed a small audience at the program.

Marcial encouraged the people, especially the youth, to engage seriously in sports.

"I would not have reached this far if it is not because of sports," Marcial said.

Diaz, on the other hand, admitted it was curiosity about weightlifting that brought her to love the sport.

"I started weightlifting because I was curious about it. My father is a tricycle driver and I went with him whenever he goes to drive for a living. We started from nothing and this is here now," she said as she showed her Olympic gold medal.

"We can bring a gold medal from the Olympics. I am from Barangay Mampang, a Zamboangaueña, we can do it. We are the first to bring in a gold medal from the Olympics," Diaz said.

Diaz also thanked attendees for braving the rains to welcome her and Marcial back to the city.

"Gracias (thank) to all of you even under the rain you are all here supporting me. I thank God and without him I would not be here. Really, life is difficult. We were stranded in Malaysia, but I am home now," Diaz said as she tried to hold back her tears.

The two Olympians later motored to the Fort Pilar Shrine and paid homage to the Virgin of Pilar, the Catholic patron of the city.

EUMIR MARCIAL HIDILYN DIAZ TOKYO OLYMPICS
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