Diaz, a Filipino weightlifter, has been hailed for his historic Olympic gold.
The family of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz chanted “push, push, push!” as she hoisted the bar to win the country’s first Olympic gold medal while glued to a television in the southern Philippines.
“Then we erupted in joy – we were shouting, and some of us were crying tears of joy,” Emelita Diaz told AFP Tuesday, a day after seeing her daughter perform in Tokyo, far from her hometown of Zamboanga.
“We didn’t know what to think since we were overjoyed.”
Diaz surpassed her personal best and won gold in the women’s 55kg class with a final clean and jerk of 127kg after nearly 18 months of training in exile in Malaysia due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The 30-year-victory, old’s which comes five years after her silver medal in Rio, has elevated her to the status of national hero, alongside boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
“Thank you, Hidilyn Diaz, for the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic Gold! We are so proud of you!” Pacquiao sent out a tweet from the United States, where he is preparing for his upcoming fight against Errol Spence of the United States.
Diaz, the daughter of a tricycle driver from Mindanao’s southern island, will benefit greatly from the achievement.
Diaz will get at least 33 million pesos ($655,000) from the government and business sector, as well as a house, as a reward for winning gold.
Megaworld Corporation, a property developer, also announced on Tuesday that it will award the Philippine Air Force woman a 14 million peso residential condominium.
It might potentially be a “game-changer” for other Filipino athletes, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who acknowledged that government funding was insufficient.
He said, “It’s as if our athletes are paid minimum money.”
Diaz’s surprising victory was plastered across Philippine newspapers’ front pages and dominated online media.
The headline in the Philippine Star, “Finally, Olympic Gold,” expressed Filipinos’ communal relief at winning their first gold medal in 97 years of Olympic competition.
Diaz’s victory served as an example for other women, according to Karen Afurong, a Manila-based instructional designer.
The 29-year-old told AFP, “We feel empowered.”
Emelita said the family spoke with Diaz Tuesday morning and congratulated her.
“I informed her… ‘It’s a big honour to our family that you brought another honour to the country’,” Emelita told AFP via telephone.
More than 20 relatives, including nieces and nephews, crowded onto the porch of the family home to watch Diaz’s performance, using a smartphone connected to their television.
“We were nervous,” said Emelita.
“They were shouting ’push, push,. Brief News from Washington Newsday.