Weightlifting champ Hidilyn Diaz celebrates on the podium during the awards rites.
Joey Mendoza
Patience, hard work pay off for Hidilyn
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Hidilyn Diaz ended her search for the Holy Grail in the Southeast Asian Games after 14 years, and there couldn’t have a better venue to do this than home.

With a throng of Filipino supporters led by her parents,  Eduardo and Emelita, cheering for her, weightlifting ace Diaz finally lifted the elusive SEAG crown after stamping her class in the women’s -55k tiara.

“For how many years, 14 years, kaya ko rin pala (It’s been 14 years and finally I did it),” the Zamboanga pride said as delightful fans swarmed her, patiently waiting for a photo op.

Diaz has come full circle in the SEAG. She debuted in 2005 in Bacolod and placed fifth and last and though she posted major achievements and became an Olympic runner-up, Asian champion, and World Championships bronze medalist, in the years that followed, the SEAG diadem had been a dead end.

Until now.

Second-placer twice  (2011 and 2013) and a bronze winner in 2007 while competing at the old -58kg category, Diaz realized her long-time dream by treating a packed crowd at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium to her world-class lifting skills, getting the job done with her total lift of 211 kgs (91 kg in snatch and 120 in clean and jerk).

“Yes, lahat nagbunga. Two months before medyo di ako ready kasi kakatapos lang ng IWF World Championships. Thankful ako nagawa ng maayos today. Lahat ito ay bunga ng preparasyon (This is the fruit of all my hard work and sacrifices. Two months ago coming from the IWF World Championships, I wasn’t quite ready. But then I persevered and prepared hard and I’m thankful it paid off),” she said.

This coming-out party ranks high up in Diaz’ accomplishments.

“Itong SEA Games na lang kulang saka Olympics (gold) para makumpleto na yung feats ko for weightlifting (The SEA Games gold and the Olympic gold are the only ones missing in my bucket list),” said Diaz, who handily beat the challenge of four rivals led by the game Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam who tallied 197 kg built on 82-115.

Diaz admitted being nervous as she entered yesterday’s competition, especially with her mom and dad in the gallery.

“First time nandito nanay at tatay ko, medyo dun talaga ako kinabahan kasi alam ko medyo nerbyosa ang nanay ko pagdating sa akin. Excited na may pressure, buti na lang nagawa ko nang maayos ang dapat kong gawin (It’s the first time for my parents to watch me compete so that doubled up the pressure. There was excitement and pressure but I was able to handle it and do what I had to do win),” said Diaz.

HIDILYN DIAZ
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