MANILA, Philippines -- Fresh off winning a historic gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics, Hidilyn Diaz continues to mentor up-and-coming lifter Elreen Ando who will make her Summer Games debut on Tuesday night.
Diaz won the Philippines' first ever Olympic gold medal on Monday night, when she lifted a record 224kg in the women's 55kg division to outduel her Chinese rival, Liao Qiuyun.
On Tuesday morning, she took the time to talk to the 22-year-old Ando, who will compete in the 64kg division at the Tokyo International Forum later in the day.
"Kanina, nakausap ko siya," Diaz said of Ando, who qualified to the Tokyo Games via continental rankings.
"Pinahawak ko sa kanya ang gold medal. Pinasuot ko," she revealed. "Sabi ko, kailangan maramdaman mo, para mag-dream high ka."
Ando, a product of the University of Cebu sports program, won silver in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, missing out on the gold by one kilo. She went on to bag two silvers and a bronze in the Asian Weightlifting Championships last April — a result that boosted her chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Games.
The 22-year-old lifter has made no secret of her admiration for Diaz, who has elevated the profile of weightlifting in the country through her exploits in the Olympics.
"Inspirasyon ko po talaga si Ate Hidy, matagal na," Ando said previously. "Siya ang dahilan kung bakit ako nag-qualify sa Tokyo, dahil sa kanyang motivation sa amin at dedikasyon sa paglaro."
Diaz was already an inspirational figure to Filipino athletes but after her triumph on Monday night, she gave them even more motivation.
Boxer Eumir Felix Marcial, another medal hopeful, wrote on Instagram: "Speechless ako ngayon sa sobrang saya."
And young taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, who lost in the first round of his competition, was fired up after watching "Ate Hidy" reach the top of the podium.
"Balang araw, ako din," he declared on Twitter.
For Diaz, her role as an inspiration to her fellow Filipino athletes is something she takes seriously. She sent them -- particularly those competing in the Tokyo Games -- an encouraging message on Tuesday morning.
"Sa lahat ng mga Olympian, ito na, may gold na tayo," she said. "Kaya niyo 'yan, laban lang para sa Pilipinas."
"Huwag kayong mag-doubt," Diaz stressed. "Believe that you have the strength, you have the power. Be proud to be Pinoy."
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