How sweet it is!

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

Hidilyn Diaz. The Filipino weightlifter who gave the first Olympic gold medal victory to the country, ending the drought for the coveted medal. The victory was made even sweeter by beating her opponent from China. Diaz has given the honor to the country overjoyed with her victory. A victory for her, a victory for the country. The country is preparing for her triumphant return. Politicians will surely be jockeying up to ride on her victory bandwagon.

But do you remember when the Palace released the Oust-Duterte matrix which included Hidilyn Diaz? Diaz was attacked by the rabid supporters of Duterte at the time, receiving threats here and there. Diaz even feared for her life. Do they also have the right to celebrate Hidilyn's victory? You be the judge. Hidilyn also went through a lot of adversities that made her want to give up. She fought depression, losing her coach and nutritionist. But she persevered even with little support. This makes her victory more meaningful as shown by her emotion after her winning lift.

Hidilyn has proven the Filipino athlete can compete against world-class athletes and win. What is needed is the belief and support of the government as well as the private sector to be able to train correctly and properly. They should be shielded from politics of any sort, lest they lose their focus. Hidilyn almost did after that so-called matrix. The government should give support and attention to sports where we can win. I understand the Filipino passion for basketball, but other sports also deserve attention. For sure weightlifting will now gain attention just as boxing did after the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Onyok Velasco who won a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Hidilyn proved that even a small girl can lift heavy weights. Hidilyn currently holds the Olympic record for the clean and jerk, as well as the record for total weight in the 55-kg class. A feat indeed.

The country has long waited for its first Olympic gold medal. Hidilyn's name is now etched in the history of sports. The Tokyo Olympics will not be forgotten. Fortunately, it pushed through despite a pandemic that continues to threaten everyone. I can only imagine the joy of Filipinos in Tokyo had they watched Hidilyn defeat her opponent from China, and for the gold medal at that. She will be coming home to a lot of incentives promised to whoever would bring home an Olympic gold medal. She deserves all of it. To Hidilyn, an outpouring of gratitude and pride from a grateful nation!

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