Vice President Leni Robredo first met Hidilyn Diaz on her “Istorya ng Pag-asa” segment on her weekly radio show back in 2016. She hasn’t won the gold medal yet but was already determined to bring glory to a nation starving for it.
Robredo shared on a Facebook post how Diaz was already an inspiration when she first met her because typical of every Filipino success story, she came from an impoverished family in Zamboanga who has no means to help her train for her dream to become a weightlifter.
“Napakaraming kahirapan ang pinagdaanan ni Hidilyn, pero hindi siya nagpatinag. Buo ang loob niyang itaguyod ang bandila ng Pilipinas (Hidilyn has gone through many hardships, but she was not deterred. Her will is strong to raise the Philippine flag),” she said.
“Marami nang medalyang napagtagumpayan. Ngayong gabi, nakamit niya ang pinakaminimithi at pinakaunang Olympic Gold Medal para sa ating bansa (A lot of medals have been won. Tonight, she achieved the long-desired and the first Olympic Gold medal for our country,” Robredo said in a post Tuesday night.
The vice president shared her own post from March 2017 wherein she talked about Diaz’s journey as an Olympian.
Diaz shared on Robredo’s weekly radio show that as a kid, she wanted to excel at something. She chose weightlifting after trying it out with her cousins and realizing that she has what it takes.
They did not have money for professional training so she used the back of their house in Zamboanga to train using two cans of milk filled with cement.
Her mother naturally was against the idea of Diaz being a weightlifter as she fears that it will stunt her growth and no man will like her.
But the future Olympic gold medalist persevered and by the time she reached high school, she was already competing at the Palarong Pambansa.
Robredo said this was because of Diaz’s “dedication.”
Meanwhile, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV also congratulated Diaz via Facebook post.
“Mabuhay ka Hidilyn (Long live Hidilyn) Thank you for bringing pride to our country, and for giving the Filipinos something to be proud of for generations to come…and also for giving us something to be happy about this day,” he said in a post with the emoticon of the Philippine flag.
On Monday, July 26, just as President Duterte finished his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, Diaz lifted 127 kgs—an Olympic record—in the clean and jerk that gave her the victory at the Tokyo Olympics over her Chinese contender.
The female weightlifter recorded 97 kgs in the snatch. She had a total lift of 224 kgs that sent an Olympic record.
In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Diaz was a silver medalist that ended the Philippines’ 20-year drought.
Because of Diaz’s win, the Philippine national anthem was sung for the first time since the country joined the Olympics in 1924.
Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines holds her medal on the podium for the victory ceremony of the women’s 55 kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. (AFP)