Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz was overwhelmed by the warm welcome and adulation of his countrymen after she won a silver medal in the ongoing Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I didn’t give up and prayed hard to God to give me the best,” the 25-year-old athlete and member of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) said. Diaz added that she and her coach was only aiming for bronze.
Diaz with fellow athlete Nestor Colonia and her coach Alfonsito Aldanete arrived 5:35 p.m. Thursday, onboard Emirates Air flight EK332 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.
She was met by her parents Emilita and Eduardo along with lawmakers Jose Manuel Dalipe and Celso Lobregat as well as Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez.
“I want to cry, I never expected this warm welcome from you. I want to offer this medal to my mother who celebrated her 53rd birthday last August 7,” Diaz said in Filipino.
She waved her Olympic silver medal amid the cheering of the crowd.
Diaz, for her feat, will receive more than P5 million worth of cash incentives, a house and lot as well as a promotion in the PAF.
Diaz is an enlisted personnel of the PAF with a rank of Airwoman Second Class and was assigned at the headquarters of 710th Special Operations Wing when she started in the sport of weightlifting in 2003.
A Zamboanga City native, Diaz was fifth in a brood of six.
She is an undergraduate of Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at the Universidad de Zamboanga.
Diaz was scheduled to fly to Davao City on Thursday night.
BENJIE L. VERGARA