More honors for Hidilyn
BANGKOK—After lifting the nation’s pride with her Olympic success, Hidilyn Diaz hopes it won’t be long before she gets to uplift her family’s life, too.
“I want to help my siblings,” Diaz, who has four brothers and a sister, said in Filipino.
“I’m already up here, so I also want to pull them up.”
Her father Eduardo drives a tricycle for a living while her mother Emelita is a plain housewife in Zamboanga City.
Incentives continued to pour in for Diaz, who is set to receive nearly P10 million from the government after bagging a silver in Rio de Janeiro and becoming the country’s first female Olympic medalist.
The 25-year-old weightlifter, who ended the country’s 20-year Olympic drought, also gets to fly for free for five years as AirAsia honored the Southeast Asian Olympic winners yesterday at JW Marriott here.
Heading the honor list and were given free flights for life were gold medalists Hoang Xuan Vinh (shooting) of Vietnam, Thailand’s Sukanya Srisurat and Sopita Tanasan (weightlifting) and Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (badminton mixed doubles).
Singapore’s Joseph Schooling—whose upset of swimming superstar Michael Phelps made him an instant global sensation—didn’t make it to the event.
“I’ll travel around the Philippines first—Cebu, Coron, Bohol, Davao,” said Diaz. “After that, Australia.”
It’s fitting for Diaz to enjoy the fruits of her hard work “after 16 years of suffering,” as Philippine Weightlifting Association vice president Elbert Atilano said in jest.
“Her schedule is for her to just enjoy her win,” said Atilano, who said the sport now owes a lot to Diaz.
“She’s now our symbol,” he said. “Interest in the sport increased by 300 percent. Before, many thought that weightlifting is just for men or that women will get macho.”
Diaz had dropped initial plans to retire.
“We’re talking that it will be better if she gets all the title—SEA Games, Asian Games and Olympics,” said Atilano.