Hidilyn: See you in Paris

Olympic gold product of sacrifice

TOKYO – As she steadied herself after a good clean then powered to a successful jerk of 127kg, weightlifting wonder woman Hidilyn Diaz completed the greatest achievement by any Filipino Olympian and assured herself of a special place in Philippine sports lore no one can take away from her.

It’s the greatest first in Philippine sports history to be looked up to, cherished and celebrated by many generations to come.

The epic feat – that sent a pocket of Filipino supporters in the competition arena and millions back home and around the world to a big roar – has propelled Diaz to the mountaintop of sports greatness, right there with boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.

Yet she’s not about to call it a career for some reasons – the noblest being that of her desire to inspire the Filipino youth.

She’s firm she will still continue to battle and try to make the country proud even in her 30s and though assured of a grand bounty for her gold-medal achievement in the XXXII Olympiad here.

“Hindi pa ako mag-stop, kaya ko pa. May ibibigay pa ako sa Pilipinas,” said Diaz. “With the help of the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission, hindi ako susuko. I will continue to inspire the youth to dream and pursue that dream.”

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The 55kg weightlifting champ in the Tokyo Games is looking forward to the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, the coming Asian Championships and not closing her door on a possible record-tying fifth Olympic stint in Paris in 2024.

“Kung ang lakas ko nandon pa, tuloy-tuloy pa ako,” said Diaz, afraid Philippine weightlifting may be affected by her sudden exit. She said she would be ready to go when she sees a successor.

She’s got the Olympic gold that’s now on top of her SEAG and Asiad gold medals in her treasure chest. There’s also the recognition not just of being an Olympic gold medalist but the first multi-medal Philippine Olympian since Teofilo Yldefonso won back-to-back bronzes in 1928 and 1932. And there’s her major push in the country’s standing in the all-time Olympic medal table with a gold, three silvers and seven bronzes.

She’s not to take all the credit to herself, acknowledging the support of the POC, the PSC, private supporters and the big help of members of her team.

She said the Tokyo gold is a product of a team effort, expressing big thanks to Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen, strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and sports psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad.

The Chinese coach and the conditioning coach stuck with Diaz in over a year of training in Malaysia.

“Walang Christmas, walang birthday, walang uwian, wala lahat. Todo ensayo, todo sakripisyo,” said weightlifting president Monico Puentevella on the sacrifice made by the team.

“Coach Gao is in charge of the technique. Julius, with strength and conditioning, pinalakas ako ng grabe. Ma’am Jeaneth guided me on the food that I take. Minsan stubborn ako, good thing naiintindihan niya ako. Kay ma’am Karen, nagkaroon ako ng regular sessions after the Asian Championships,” said Diaz.

“In the Asian Championships, nakita ko hindi ako ready. But because of them, I was able to do what I did here,” Diaz added.

Diaz said her experience should serve as an eye-opener. She said: “Hindi tayo mananalo without the preparation and the right people behind (an athlete).”

She’s thankful to the POC and the PSC her team was tapped and funded.

The country reaped the very reward it wanted, with Team Diaz becoming an Olympic gold-medal unit.

Diaz insisted each member was instrumental in her record-setting lift.

“I was trying that in training, pero hindi ko magawa,” said Diaz.

On that fateful Monday night at the Tokyo International Forum with the gold on the line, she mustered the strength to make the winning lift.

And Diaz flies home today an Olympic champ, with millions in incentives awaiting her.

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