Golden girl gets bust in Zambo

By: June Navarro - Philippine Daily Inquirer | July 28,2021 - 06:35 AM

Gold medallist Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz stand on the podium for the victory ceremony of the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

The cash will come in and accolades will do, too, but there won’t be a better way to pay tribute—and immortalize—Hidilyn Diaz’s golden lift in the Tokyo Olympics than what her hometown of Zamboanga and the government has for her.

A golden statue either at a public playground or at newly renovated Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex in the bustling port city will be built, and the Medal of Valor will be awarded her after Diaz ended the country’s close-to-a-century pursuit of a first gold medal on Monday night in Japan.

“Building a statue for Hidilyn was originally set after she got a silver medal in the 2016 (Rio De Janeiro) Olympics. But we’ve decided to postpone the plan until after the Tokyo Olympics thinking that she will win the gold,’’ Zamboanga City Councilor Elbert Atilano told the Inquirer.

“It took Hidilyn 20 years of lifting weights almost everyday to get there. She definitely deserves it,’’ said Atilano, her coach for eight years before he personally brought the adolescent Diaz to Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez in 2006.

“I told Chairman Ramirez, who was back then in his first term as PSC chair, that we have to start supporting this young weightlifter because she has the makings of an Olympian,’’ Atilano added.

The PSC, meanwhile, said that the agency will be awarding a gold Medal of Valor to Diaz as provided for by the law.

Medal being prepared

Republic Act 10699 or the expanded incentives act for athletes and coaches, says that the winner of an Olympic gold medal will receive the said medal on top of the monetary incentive of P10 million.

“In behalf of a grateful and appreciative nation amidst the crippling pandemic that has brought the nation to its knees, allow me to congratulate a true Filipino, the newest sporting idol this nation will forever remember in the annals of its sports hall of fame, Hidilyn Diaz,’’ PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez said.

The PSC has already prepared the said medal accordingly and is looking at awarding it alongside the monetary incentives, usually given out by President Duterte himself, in a courtesy call in Malacanang.

“Fittingly and ironically, the first golden performance by a Filipino athlete, ever, came in the sport of weightlifting, as if to say that a single athlete lifted the weight of a whole nation, though besieged with all the despair, frustration, hopelessness and sorrow, displayed strong determination, fortitude and resilience,’’ Fernandez added. INQ

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TAGS: gold medal, golden statue, Hidilyn Diaz, Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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