Freeman Cebu Sports


WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

On the day the incumbent president delivered his final state of the nation address, a woman raised the entire nation from distress. Hidilyn Diaz summoned all the strength she built from years of training and sacrifice to lift more than twice her body weight, held it over her head for three seconds of eternity, and to immortality.

After the buzz validated her final lift the heaviest, she appeared the weakest and almost fell on her knees, her grit gone after it was done, sweat drowned when tears abound. In the podium her tears of joy, pride, relief and vindication continued to flow while the national anthem played for the first time in the quadrennial games. The melody never sounded this sweet and the lyrics never meant this deep.

The woman born without a silver spoon gave us silver moon five years ago. And now pure gold, but for the country it means the whole world. She not only snatched the slippery gold that eluded us for almost a century, she also cleaned the Olympic book, although 3 kilogram shy of the world record.

But it didn’t matter. In fact, it was sweeter. She may not have lifted heavier than the world record, but she lifted stronger than its holder. Who else but Chinese. 127kg, the first time she lifted, in training she never did. For the world to see she must have waited, how Chinese exclusive territory is invaded. By one kilogram, not by the acre of land.

The gold glitters to remind us of many things. One, champions are not made overnight. In 2008, she debuted in Beijing as the youngest lifter in her then heavier 58kg category. She placed second to the last but made sure it was not her last.

Four years later in London she did not finish but did not perish. She bounced back in Rio stronger and won silver in the lighter 53kg category. On her fourth straight Olympics last Monday, she finally nailed it. At her peak age of 30 in the 55kg category, weight perfect for her height of less than 5 feet. But now she stands tallest.

Two, they are born and grown. No need to debate between nature and nurture. It is both. No matter how you train, you will never excel with a body not meant to be. Hidilyn had the body to lift heavy. Muscular at a tender age of ten, the innocent girl trained in Zamboanga city using crude equipment she would reprise years later due to pandemic.

Needless to state, they need support. Diaz was vilified, without being verified, after she spoke her mind about her lonely journey. She trained to lift heavy weight of a metal plate, but had to carry heavier burden of insensitivity beyond category.

But champions are battle-scarred, especially Hidilyn who grew up in a place that survived intermittent sectarian conflict. She continued to train, and cry, in exile. And when it was her time to shine, she stood up to a Chinese woman unbeatable on paper, world champion and record holder. We should realize they are beatable by now. A woman just showed us how.

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