Hidilyn Diaz not yet retiring, eyes gold in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Retirement remains a remote option for Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz—for now.

Still on a high following her triumphant showing in the Rio Olympics where she claimed the silver medal in the women’s 53-kg in a stunning fashion, Diaz, 25, admitted she still has no reason to call it quits, fanning hopes that she could don the country’s tricolors anew in the Tokyo Games four years from now.

“Parang ayaw ko pa mag-retire,” she told mediamen during the press conference inside the NAIA CIP Lounge upon her arrival on Thursday night, following a long and taxing 25-hour flight from Brazil’s capital city. “Ngayon pa lang, nami-miss ko na ang pagbubuhat.”

After becoming the first Filipino female athlete to clinch a medal in the world’s grandest sporting conclave, and in the process, end the country’s 20-year medal drought, Diaz has already set her sights in the Olympic gold.

“Kaya ko naman po kung susuportahan po ng gobyerno complete with strength and conditioning and rehab. Hindi na ako papayag na silver lang,” she said, drawing big cheers among local sports officials, led by Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez and Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Committee on Games, Amusements and Sports, and others in attendance.

“Siyempre pipilitin ko,” added Diaz, the military airwoman second class who’s bound to earn a promotion within the Philippine Air Force.

Although she flopped in her first two Olympic stints, finishing second to the last in the 2008 Beijing Games and failing to finish in the 2012 London Games, Diaz said her self-confidence never wavered going to her third straight Olympic appearance, with her modest goal a bronze medal finish.

“Ginawa kong learning experience ang mga nangyari dati. Doon ako natuto sa mga pagkakamali,” she said.

While she expressed gratitude to the unwavering support of her parents, father Eduardo Sr. and mother Emelita, and the national team coaching staff, headed by coach Alfonsito Aldanete, Diaz said she never forget to thank God Almighty.

“Spiritually, ‘yun naging mental preparation ko. I surrendered all to God. I prayed na sana i-send ‘yung Holy Spirit during that win. Binigyan ako ng chance ni God pumunta ng Brazil kaya kailangan gawin ko na ang best ko. Nagdadasal ako habang nagbubuhat,” said the diminutive Zamboanga City native.

Diaz also recalled the priceless moment when she and her team thought they have already secured the bronze medal. But to her amazement, the favored Chinese foe Li Yajun, failed in her attempt she eventually bombed out of medal contention.

“Bronze lang kasi talaga dapat ako. Nag-pray ako sa corner kay God, pagka-praise ko kay God, nakita ko ‘yung Chinese Taipei winner at group nila. Sabi ko ‘Bakit tumatalon?’ Tapos sabi nu’ng Taiwanese coach ‘You’re second.’ God is good talaga,” shared Diaz. – By Jerome Lagunzad

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