HIDILYN Diaz took the charm and notched the lone medal for the Philippines in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics on her third try.
The Filipino weightlifter tallied 88 in snatch and 112 in clean and jerk with a total of 200, a point higher than the score of bronze medalist Yoon Jin Hee of South Korea who garnered 199. Hsu Shu-Ching of Chinese Taipei clinched the gold with a score of 212 in the women’s 53-kg class.
“I was very happy, I didn’t expect these things to come. I was only asking to perform well and hopefully for a bronze but I was overwhelmed because God gave me a silver,” Diaz shared in a phone interview with The Manila Times. She participated previously in the 58-kg division both in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.
Diaz has had an injury on her right shoulder while competing in the Rio Olympics. In fact she’s undergoing treatment since November 2015.
“My lift dropped. It was not that heavy yet so the injury really affected me physically and emotionally [during the competition],” she explained.
After ending the 20-year Olympic medal drought for the Philippines, Diaz admitted that there has been a lot of changes in her life. Boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco last brought home the silver for the country in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
“Everything changed. There are people asking to have a photo with me. Opportunities are coming my way, as I’ve met a lot of people.”
The 25-year-old member of the Philippine Air Force is hopeful that the milestone she started in Philippine weightlifting would be sustained.
“I think it will be sustained because there are several athletes who really want to try weightlifting, and when they witnessed my victory they know they can also win in the Olympics someday.”
Philippine Weightlifting Association (PWA) vice president Elbert Atilano, on the other hand, shared that the league is also reaping the fruits of Diaz’ success.
“That’s a good opportunity that our Hidilyn is known not only among weightlifters but practically in the whole country. It is easier now to sell and promote (the sport),” Atilano said also in a phone interview.
He emphasized that for weightlifting to continue collecting victories would still depend on government support with strong private sector backup as well since the program already exists.
“If given the much needed support, then we can surpass,” the PWA vice president said.
He further explained that there’s a dearth of training centers where athletes or kids could train as compared to other sports which have enough training centers or facilities all over the country.
“In our case, you can count the facilities available with your fingers, same with equipment used for training, it’s too minimal.”
Diaz intends to build her own training center in her hometown, Mampang, Zamboanga City since she believes that grassroots development in weightlifting would be a big boost to the sport.
“I’m close to buying a lot in Mampang [to build a training center], and it’s not only Mampang that I want to help but the whole country because I know that a lot of Filipinos have chances in weightlifting.”
Atilano applauds Diaz for her desire of expanding her training center.
“She has her own training center, a very small one with only one platform. But with her win, she wanted to share a bigger weightlifting facility and that would help not only in her community but Zamboanga City in general.”
The 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist expressed her aspiration to compete again in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I want to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. I know that it seems impossible because of time [constraint]but as I said, if I want it, why not make it a priority?” Diaz ended sounding jubilant.