The Department of National Defense (DND) lauded weightlifter and military reservist Hidilyn Diaz for delivering the country’s first Olympic gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Monday night, July 26.
“The Department of National Defense joins the nation in congratulating weighlifting champion and Philippine Air Force (PAF) Sergeant Hidilyn Diaz on winning the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal today [Monday] in Tokyo,” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement.
“Her success is a testament to the unwavering spirit of the Filipino people to rise above all odds,” he added.
Diaz was recruited into the PAF in 2013 through the military’s Direct Enlistment Program, and initially being assigned to the Air Force Special Service Group, a PAF unit that provides physical fitness, morale, and welfare services to its personnel.
Currently, she has a rank of sergeant. She was a recipient of a military merit medal and a Presidential Citation Unit Badge for spearheading PAF events.
On Monday night, Diaz ruled the 55-kilogram category in women’s weightlifting in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by lifting an Olympic record 127 kgs in her third and last attempt at clean and jerk. In total, the Zamboanga City native lifted a total of 224 kgs, which also set a new Olympic mark.
Accordingly, Diaz’ award is the first gold and the 11th overall medal for the country since it started participating in the Olympics in 1924.
In a separate Twitter post, Lorenzana posted a photo of a virtual meeting between him and Diaz.
“I always knew that [Hidilyn Diaz] would bring home the gold! Proud na proud kami sa iyo, Hidilyn! (We are very proud of you, Hidilyn!)” he said.
“Her triumph is a proof of the Filipino woman’s strength. Amidst these trying times, Hidilyn has given us so much joy and hope. Her story is one that will inspire all of us,” the Defense Chief added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PAF also heaped praises on Diaz for her Olympic feat.
“The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, sends his heart-felt greetings to Sgt. Hidilyn Diaz who brought glory not only to the armed forces but also in the entire Philippines. Hail to the Filipino athletes, hail to the Philippines!” said Captain Jonathan Zata, chief of AFP public affairs office, in a “Laging Handa” press briefing on Tuesday.
With her feat, Diaz is expected to receive at least P33 million in cash reward while the Senate has filed multiple resolutions seeking to commend her for the historic victory.