MANILA, Philippines - Hidilyn Diaz, a 21-year-old weightlifter from Zamboanga, will do the great honor of carrying the Philippine flag in the opening ceremony of the coming London Olympics.
Manny Lopez, chef-de-mission of the Philippine delegation to London, said the Philippine Olympic Committee expanded board made the decision during a meeting yesterday.
"Considering her schedule and that there will be no strain on her part, the board named Hidilyn Diaz as our flag bearer in London," Lopez said in a text message.
It will be the second time Diaz will represent the Philippines in the Olympics. In 2008 in Beijing, as a 17-year-old, she finished 10th in a field of 12 in the finals of women’s weightlifting.
Monico Puentevella, POC chairman and president of the Philippine Weightlifting Association, said Diaz coming from Mindanao would also give the southern Philippine island a distinct honor.
"The girl from Mindanao is our flag bearer," said Puentevella, who is hoping for a better performance from Diaz in the London Games scheduled July 27 to Aug. 12.
Jose Romasanta, POC spokesperson, said Diaz is also being honored for being a two-time Olympian.
He said there’s another two-time Olympian among the 11 Filipino athletes who will vie in London – archer Mark Javier. But carrying the flag during the lengthy ceremony might affect his performance.
"It's not an easy task because you have to hold on to the flag for a couple of hours during the parade. And it’s quite heavy. Nakakangalay," said Lopez.
Earlier considered to do the honor for the country were shooter Brian Rosario, judoka Tokoshina Aldaba Hoshina and swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi.
But somehow, the POC expanded board realized the closeness of the schedules of these three athletes to the opening ceremony.
"Baka mangalay ang mga kamay eh (Their hands might get sore) especially in the case of our shooter. You know how delicate that sport is," said Lopez.
The other members of the Philippine team are archer Rachel Cabral, tracksters Marestella Torres and Rene Herrera, swimmer Jessie Lacuna, boxer Mark Anthony Barriga and BMX rider Daniel Caluag.
In Beijing, Diaz lifted 85 kg in the snatch and 107 kg in the clean and jerk for a 192 kg total, and broke her own Philippine record set in the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand.
She won’t have any problems carrying the Philippine flag.