Hidilyn Diaz uplifts spirits of Filipino Olympians

John Bryan Ulanday - Philstar.com
Hidilyn Diaz uplifts spirits of Filipino Olympians
Philippines' Hidilyn Diaz celebrates as she wins gold in the women's 55kg weightlifting event during the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Hanoi, Vietnamn on May 20, 2022.
Tang Chhin Sothy / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – From the country’s biggest Olympic bet to its biggest supporter.

Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo, the first and only Filipino gold medalist in the Olympics, vowed to rally behind the country’s representatives in the Paris Olympics after missing it for the first time in more than decade.

“Take pride na dinadala nyo ‘yung Pilipinas,” beamed Diaz during the 60th anniversary celebration of Milo over the weekend at the Ayala Malls TriNoma in Quezon City.

“Every four years lang ang Olympics. Do your best but enjoy the moment. I’m happy for them kasi they trained hard. Iyon ang goal naming lahat, to qualify. Now, it’s time to win. As their ate, syempre masaya ako."

Diaz, who started lifting weights from a makeshift concrete barrel at 11 years old, blazed the trail for rising Filipino weightlifters who will now carry the fight in Paris, including Elreen Ando, who bested her in the IWF World Cup.

The 33-year-old icon had won gold medals across all levels from the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, world championships and the Olympics, building a weightlifting resume like no other.

And though she will miss the Summer Games after four straight appearances, Diaz is not going anywhere with an intent to return in style remain in the competitive weightlifting scene soon.

“I’m still lifting. I will still lift myself and for other people, in accordance with God. I will still represent the country,” said Diaz, concurrently serving as coach and trainer of future lifters in her weightlifting academy in Rizal.

“I cannot tell the future but one thing is for sure right now, I will still lift and I will continue to love the sport.”

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