Philippine weightlifter credits her Olympic success to her faith
HIDILYN DIAZ became the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medal winner, set an Olympic weightlifting record – and thanked her friends who prayed the Miraculous Medal novena.
She has also won fans amongst Filipino communities around the world.
Diaz, a 30-year-old air force sergeant, lifted not just 224 kilograms to win in her 55kg class, but lifted the spirits of a nation by ending the Philippines’ 97-year wait for Olympic gold after competing at the Games since 1924.
She praised God and lifted up Our Lady’s Miraculous Medal from around her neck while repeatedly shouting “Thank You, Lord.”
Diaz spoke at a media conference afterwards and explained the significance of the Miraculous Medal.
“It is a sign of … my faith to Mama Mary and Jesus Christ,” she said.
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao congratulated Diaz on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“Her victory was captured through many lenses, and in one of those photos was her holding the gold medal and wearing a Miraculous Medal of Our Lady on her chest. We admire her devotion to the Blessed Mother as she carried in her victory her great faith in God.
“Hidilyn is a true weightlifter who draws her strength from her love for the country and a deep Catholic faith,” the archbishop said. “
Diaz comes from a poor background, and is an inspirational figure in the Philippines. She is often in the public gaze.
Only two years ago she was subject to public mocking after she spoke about a lack of support for athletes by the country’s government.
She was the fifth of six children in a family that lived near Zamboanga city on Mindanao. In a feature posted before the competition, olympics.com reported that, while still in school, she would go with her father to help sell vegetables and fish on the street or at the local market. Many nights rice mixed with soy sauce was all the family had to eat.
“Introduced to weightlifting by her cousin, Catalino Diaz Jr., the little girl who would become a national icon started lifting weights made from plastic pipes and homemade concrete weights cast in old tin cans,” reported olympics.com.” It said people who noticed her dedication and talent began to help.
“I’m just thankful to God that he gave me a chance to be a role model, for the youth to believe in the fact that Ate (a Tagalog term meaning “older sister”) Hidilyn is a fighter, fighting for her dreams,” she was quoted as saying. “Maybe God brought me here to inspire the youth to engage in sports and teach them the value of sports.”