Water under the bridge
Hidilyn Diaz became the first-ever Filipino Olympic gold medalist after winning the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition in Tokyo. It’s the Philippines’ first gold since it joined the Games 97 years ago. The feat sent Filipinos into a frenzy, not only for the historic, feel-good moment, but also for Hidilyn, who overcame a lot just to get to this point.
Apart from the grueling training and personal sacrifices, the Zamboanga native’s journey was also beset with several controversies, which included a lack of funding and a supposed ouster plot.
‘Sa totoo lang ang dami kong pinagdaanan’, confessed Hidilyn. ‘After winning the Olympics (in Rio 2016), ang hirap mag-sustain…nagkaroon ng matrix’.
‘Sobrang gulo ng buhay ko nung time na yun. Then we decided I have to stop in school para makapag-training’, said the 30-year-old, adding that she hasn’t seen her parents in months.
— Gretchen Ho (@gretchenho) July 26, 2021
The 2019 matrix that Hidilyn was referring to was a diagram released by Malacañang which featured several prominent figures who are supposedly involved in a plot to overthrow President Duterte. Other personalities included TV host Gretchen Ho, former senator Bam Aquino, and former presidential candidate Mar Roxas.
The Olympian brushed it off in a video at the time, saying that she was too busy in her preparation for the upcoming Games to be involved in any conspiracy.
‘Sana wag po kayong ganun na idadawit niyo ang pangalan ng isang tao na sobrang busy at sobrang sinasakripisyo ang lahat para sa Pilipinas, ginagawa ang lahat para irepresenta ang Pilipinas sa weightlifting sa Philippine sports and suddenly ilalagay lang ang pangalan sa isang matrix na walang basehan’.
Prior to Tokyo 2020, Hidilyn also begged for financial assistance from private corporations and backers on her Instagram story, adding that she was embarrassed to even ask.
While the reactions were mostly supportive, the post opened up criticisms from pro-Duterte supporters, who saw the plea as a shot at the administration. Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Butch Ramirez also claimed that they have been nothing but supportive to Hidilyn.
But all of these seem to be water under the bridge for Malacañang and Co., who praised the athlete for ‘bringing pride and glory to the Philippines‘.
‘Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you. Laban, Pilipinas!’ said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement.
Meanwhile, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, who presented the controversial matrices during his time as presidential spox, called Diaz’s win an ‘inspiration to all Filipino athletes‘.