ZAMBOANGA CITY – Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz flew back to the Philippines Wednesday and met her inspiration, the Filipino people.
She arrived 4:45pm at the NAIA along with Gao Kaiwen, her Chinese coach and Julius Naranjo, her strength and conditioning coach.
Based on her itinerary yesterday, Hidilyn would go immediately to her hotel accommodation in Manila, including her two coaches, for the 7-day mandatory quarantine period.
The world’s weightlifting champion is also scheduled to go back home in her home province in Zamboanga City after completing her quarantine, where a hero’s welcome is also waiting for her, courtesy of the local government of Zamboanga City.
There is not much details about the hero’s welcome but she will be paraded in the main streets of the city in Zamboanga, it was learned.
Government’s P10 Million reward
It was learned that before Hidilyn could check in at her hotel room, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) will present her the gold medal of valor, This will also form part of the champion’s reward based on the Expanded Athletes Incentives Act, and this will include her P10 Million cash incentive for bagging an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.
No less than President Rodrigo R. Duterte himself will hand over the P10 Million incentive during a courtesy call to the President’s office in Malacañang.
Diaz will also expect a rank promotion from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. For those who still doesn’t know about her profession, Diaz was employed by the Philippine Air Force based in Zamboanga City.
Challenges before achieving the gold
In 2014, Hidilyn was challenged with a knee injury. At the same time she also lost a coach. These were among the downtimes she has considered before finally clinching the elusive gold in Tokyo, Japan.
During the Catholic Church-led conference years back, Hidilyn also spoke of a spiritual hunger and emptiness which also led to her depression in life.
“I didn’t know my purpose in life and why I was in weightlifting,” she said in Filipino during 2018 Philippine Conference for the New Evangelization in UST Manila.
Diaz admitted of losing hope to continue her weightlifting career due to financial difficulties she encountered while on training overseas. In her last training in Malaysia before the Tokyp Olympics with her two coaches, she narrated of having problems again. Her team couldn’t go back home because of the pandemic. She was stranded in Malaysia.
Not only that she again encountered emptiness but she needed to stop her schooling. Diaz was enrolled at a computer college but had to stop to give priority to her weightlifting training schedules in Malaysia. Her emptiness in a foreign land has led her to learn praying and directly talking to the Lord Almighty.
“I learned how to pray when I didn’t know how to before,” said Diaz, 30. “And I trusted in God. I told myself, there’s a purpose why I’m here.”
Diaz said it was important to trust in God and in one’s self. During her competition time, Diaz said she did not expect she could lift the 127kg jerk that catapulted her to clinch the gold medal, and even breaking a world record of 224.
“Perhaps that was God and all the people who prayed,” she said, adding that jerking a 127kg is too heavy. “I’m truly thankful for all who prayed and held novenas.”