Hidilyn prays for another lift of faith
Hidilyn Diaz is adored by Filipino supporters after winning a silver medal in the 2016 Rio de janeiro Olympics.
Abac Cordero

Hidilyn prays for another lift of faith

Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - August 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — It was a Sunday in beautiful Rio de Janeiro, four years ago on this date, when the Philippines ended a 20-year medal drought in the Olympics.

Hidilyn Diaz, a humble weightlifter from Zamboanga, got up the stage at the Riocentro Convention Center, hoping and praying for a bronze. It was her third Olympics.

Not too many Filipinos stood witness to the historic event.

But in a sudden twist of fate, the favored lifter from China missed the podium. A Taiwanese took the top, then Diaz and a South Korean.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening then,” said Diaz, then 25, as she tried to recall her triumph that came so far away from home.

Diaz remembered that there was some confusion backstage, and because Li Yajun failed in three attempts while going for the Olympic record, the Chinese threw away all her medal hopes.

Hsu Shu-ching of Taipei won the gold instead of the silver.

“I kept praying for the bronze and then I knew I had won the bronze. But God gave me the silver,” said Diaz.

“It was a miracle,” said Filipino chef-de-mission Jose Romasanta.

Diaz became an overnight sensation back home. She is only the ninth among more than a hundred million Filipinos to win a medal in the Olympics.

Before her, boxer Mansueto Velasco bagged the silver in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The Philippines won another silver medal courtesy of boxer Anthony Villanueva in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics on top of seven bronze medals dating back to the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.

Diaz’ life changed.

But her mission is far from over. Now 29, she is gearing up for the Tokyo Olympics that was moved from last month to July next year because of the deadly coronavirus disease.

She wants the gold.

Diaz, the reigning Asian Games champion at 53 kg, has been stranded and training in Kuala Lumpur the past four months. She is facing all the uncertainties.

Because of the pandemic, no one really knows if the Tokyo Games would ever push through.

At her age, Diaz does not enjoy the luxury of time.

“Time flies,” she said from the Malaysian capital yesterday.

Hidilyn can only pray.

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