BIGGER is not always better. Take it from our newly minted Olympic heroine.
Hidilyn Diaz had to shed some pounds to be in top shape for the weightlifting competition in Rio. For someone who lifted 88 kg and 112 kg to land a silver medal, she weighs in at 53 kg and stands in her bare feet at 5’2”. In other words, she’s not a heavyweight and she’s not tall. What’s more, she looks like a real girl, with a perfect set of white, even teeth that qualifies her smiles for a toothsome toothpaste ad.
But small (or medium) as she is, Hidilyn has touched the skies over Olympus and lifted a burden from our shoulders, the weighty embarrassment of a long metallic drought that, to paraphrase what our athletes have been telling us for the longest time, could have been addressed if sports had received adequate attention and sufficient funding from government. Instead, athletic organizations and associations (whose officials receive salaries paid for by taxpayers) are tainted by the same political contortions and acrobatics that bedevil, nay, impoverish our programs for the young. Luckily for Hidilyn, she had the full backing of Manny V. Pangilinan’s commitment to help bring home some of those precious metals from Brazil.
From Zamboanga and the Air Force (where she is Airwoman 2nd class) to the Games, Hidilyn is committed to give weightlifting a lift. With her prize money of P5 million, she will set up a real weightlifting gym in Zamboanga City.
“Real” is an adjective that’s really needed, because she already has built a modest gym for the kids in her town, beginning with her nieces and nephews, now more inspired than ever. When she was just starting out, the only training Hidilyn could do was at a center 10 km from home – the problem was more than the distance, it was also the transportation.
Suddenly the clouds have lifted and things are looking up for the sport and its champ. The enlarged facsimile of a check courtesy of Philippine Sports Commission is hers to encash – there should be no repeat of the Onyok ordeal here – and she’s due for a promotion in the Air Force. From hereon in, Hidilyn, sky’s the limit! (Jullie Y. Daza)