by Waylon Galvez
Olympic weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz vehemently denied on Friday allegations that she is part of a plot against the government, insisting that the only thing she is focused on is earning a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.
A silver medalist in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and recently in the Asian Weightlifting Championship in Ningbo, China, Diaz was deep in preparation for the World Weightlifting Championship last September in Thailand, as well as the Southeast Asian Games which the country is hosting later this year when her name cropped up along with several others.
“Medyo na-down ako, pero at the same time naisip ko lang I know who I am, God knows who I am, yung mga taong nakapaligid sa akin alam nila kung ano yung gusto ko, ano yung focus ko,” said Diaz in an exclusive interview with The Manila Bulletin at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila.
“Ano man yung binabato nila sa akin, yung mga taong di ko kilala, bakit ako magpapa-apekto?”
“Focus talaga kasi malapit na ako dun sa target ko, sa goals ko. Iniisip ko na lang na yung tsismis na yun on a different level lang… although Malacanang yun kaya na-shock din ako,” she added.
Diaz was tagged in a ‘matrix’ presented by Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo last Wednesday, linking several personalities to a destabilization plot against the Duterte administration.
People close to the popular weightlifter said she was in tears Thursday night, confused and worried for her security and that of her family while at the same feeling “disrespected” that she would be linked to something so unpatriotic after what she has done for the country.
“Natakot ako. Malaking bagay yun, na-realize ko Malacanang yun. Ang dami kong questions na bakit na-link ako dun,” she said.
“At the same time na-feel ko na na-disrespect ako as an athlete. I am an athlete representing the Philippines and at the same time sundalo ako. I’m representing the Philippines and at the same time serving the country,” added Diaz, a member of the Philippine Air Force.
Diaz said her service, as with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) through president Ricky Vargas, has already reached out and assured her of unwavering support.
The Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP), led by president Monico Punetevella, likewise got in touch Diaz. She was advised to write a letter to the President.
“Hindi ko pa natanong sa Air Force kung pwede akong sumulat ng letter. Sabi lang sumulat ako ng letter then kay Chairman (Butch Ramirez of the PSC),” she said.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas issued his statement on the Hidilyn Diaz issue.
“We have been in constant touch with Hidilyn from day 1 of this issue. We asked her what help POC can extend. She says she is grateful but doesn’t see how at the moment. But we will extend help in whatever way we are able. At the moment, we are just assuring her that we are ready if there is anything we can do. Hidilyn is a national treasure and hero,” he said. (with a report from Nick Giongco)