OLYMPIAN HIDILYN DIAZ Wins First PH GOLD in 2018 ASIAD

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The 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang are well into its second week of competition now, counting the events that were contested before the opening ceremony on Saturday. While this and the Olympics do not encourage the keeping of medal tallies for the participating nations, based on current standings the Philippines is in 19th place. Going into this week, the best the Filipino delegation has done was to win bronze medals in taekwondo. But on Tuesday the country’s medal count took a big boost when lady weightlifter and Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz went to the mat. What was Silver in Rio 2016 was Gold for 2018.

CNN Philippines reports that Hidilyn Diaz, the Filipina weightlifter who gave glory to Filipino Pride by winning a Silver Medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, finally succeeded in netting a Gold Medal. It was for the Asian Games but gold is still gold. The moment of glory arrived on September 21 at the Jakarta International Expo complex, where the weightlifting event was in competition. Diaz, age 27 from Zamboanga City, was part of the Women’s 53 kilogram weightlifting category that time.

When it came to the final lifts, Hidilyn Diaz showed her Olympics-honed strength by successfully lifting 207 kilograms total (92 kg in the snatch plus 115 kg in the clean and jerk) to win the Gold Medal. She powered though Kristina Shermetova of Turkmenistan, who managed 206 kilograms to get the Silver, and Surodchana Khambao of Thailand, who with 201 kg completed the top 3 out of a field of 12 contestants in that women’s division, including fellow Filipina lifter Dessa Delos Santos. Shermetova had dominated the snatch portion of the event by managing 1 kilo more than Diaz, but her 116 kg attempt at the clean and jerk was botched, forcing her to cut down to 115 kg instead.

This momentous occasion has inspired Diaz on a personal belief that she has been holding since beginning to compete at an international stage: that, Rio 2016 aside, she could really win an Olympic Gold Medal if she trained and prepared hard enough. “I am grateful to God that I won the gold medal that all of us Filipinos dream of,” she said. “This proves the Olympic gold medal is possible.”

For her accomplishment, Hidilyn Diaz stands to received generous windfalls from several sources: Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Lee Hoong and Siklab Foundation (P1 million each), the Philippine Olympic Committee (P2 million), and the national government in light of Republic Act 10699. The Philippines now has her Gold Medal added to four Bronze from taekwondo events.

Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News

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