Rio Olympics weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz announced that she would launch a scholarship program to attract more young people to the sport.
Open to the youth of Zamboanga City, the scholarship, backed by Alsons Power Group, will pay for the full tuition and provide a stipend to cover uniforms and school supplies of students who will qualify for the program.
“I am happy today. I always think that the blessings which I received is not all for me but I have to share this to kids who have potentials of becoming the next Olympian,” Diaz told the media in a news conference in Makati City on Wednesday.
“Alsons motivates me before and after the competition which really helped me. They want more kids to try the sport and train early in their childhood,” added Diaz.
The 25-year old Diaz ended the Philippines’ 20-year medal drought in the Olympics when she won the silver medal in women’s weightlifting 53 kilogram category in Rio.
She is also the first Filipina and Mindanaoan to win an Olympic medal, and her silver is the first outside of boxing—the sport that gave the country its two other Olympic silver medals through Anthony Villanuena in 1964 and Mansueto Velasco in 1996.
“We have regional coaches in Region 9 who can hone their talents. And there are also schools that are starting to show strong potentials,” national team coach Alfonsito Aldanete said.
“We lack in logistics and that triggered us to find for companies to help us. We are lucky in the last end that they believed in us,” said Zamboanga City Councilor Bong Atilano, a weightlifting coach himself.
The Weightlifting Association of the Philippines, the sport’s local governing body said it would support Diaz’s initiative.
The national sports association also said that it has an ongoing grassroots program to develop new talents in different parts of the country.