Too much weight on Hidilyn’s shoulders | Inquirer Sports

Too much weight on Hidilyn’s shoulders

LONDON—Hidilyn Diaz had the weight of the entire country on her shoulders even before she could see action on Monday in the weightlfting competitions of the 30th Olympic Games here.
The 21-year-old Zamboangueña had the singular honor of carrying the Philippine flag during Friday’s opening ceremonies, but there was a price to pay for the distinction.

As standard bearer, she obviously had an extra burden to carry when it was time to see action on Monday at the ExCel, London’s cavernous exhibition and convention center. And the load was probably just too much for her to bear.

“I’m sorry I disappointed a lot of people,” she cried after failing in three attempts to put a score on the board in the women’s 58-kilogram category of the weightlifting competitions. “And to think I was the flag bearer in the parade.”


Hidilyn, who had to put her Computer Science studies at the Universidad de Zamboanga in 2010 on hold while she pursued her Olympic dreams, came up empty in her second stint in the Games and was unable to explain why she could not clean and jerk the weight she had chosen to start the second part of her event. Three times she tried, and three times she failed, to lift 118 kilograms.


It was more than twice her body weight, but it was a weight that had seemed so easy in training.

Monico Puentevella, Philippine Olympic Committee chair and president of the country’s weightlifting federation, was also at a loss.

“Nanlambot (she weakened). Maybe the stress and excitement got to her,” he said. “It has nothing to do with being the flag bearer. But that’s the Olympics. What can you do?”

Hidilyn came to England a month ago with modest Olympic targets. She was aiming to just break her personal best in the event, going for a high target of 225 kilograms to finish somewhere around eighth place. Had she achieved that, she would have ended up only in 10th place, behind eventual gold medallist Li Xueying of China, who had a 246 total.

Li set two Olympic records for the snatch and total.  Thailand’s Pimsiri Sirikaev took the silver  and Ukraine’s Yuliya Kalina the bronze.  It was Thailand’s first medal here.

Hidilyn started well enough, lifting 92 kg in her first attempt in the snatch.


She then aimed for 97 kg, which was a kilo better that her personal best of 96.  She failed in her first attempt, but she easily made it two minutes later, beating her personal best by a kilogram.

After a 10-minute break, the women in the 58-kg weight class were back in action for the clean and jerk.

Hidilyn booked for 118-kg first lift, the heaviest first lift in Group B of the division. That gave her a break much longer than 10 minutes while the other women struggled with the lighter weights.

When her number came up, she let out a shrill scream to pump herself up. As she raised the weight, the bar scraped her knee—a foul which the officials did not call—and cleaned it up to her chest.
“I thought it was a foul, but it was not called,” she said. “Then I got dizzy.”

The barbell hit the floor with a loud thud and she fell backward, collapsing to the platform. For a few anxious moments, she lay on her back. Cheered on by the obviously pro-underdog crowd, she slowly rolled over, picked herself up and walked away.

Hidilyn had to come back in two minutes to make another attempt. Again, she failed. And by the time she came on again for her third and last try, she was a spent athlete.

Following her third and final failure, she waved to the crowd, which gave her a rousing ovation. Then she turned around and walked off the platform in tears, collapsing into the arms of her coach, Tony Agustin.

The second guessing came as soon as she left the biggest stage in her life.

Why did she start with 118 kg when she could have opted to start with a lighter weight and worked her way up?

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“That’s her coach’s decision.  He knows better than anyone of us,” said Puentevella.

TAGS: 30th Olympic Games, London 2012 Olympics

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