China has known to be one of the powerhouses in international weightlifting, but Hidilyn Diaz went to the Olympics in Tokyo to prove the Chinese are beatable.
Diaz shocked the world, when she successfully lifted a record 127 kilograms in her third attempt in clean and jerk to beat world champion Liao Quiyun and capture the Philippines' first Olympic gold.
Present during the historic event was Monico Puentevella, head of Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas, the sport’s national governing body who revealed in an interview on TeleRadyo how he motivated Diaz in the Olympic final.
Although he knew that the Chinese lifter would be the person to beat in the women’s 55kg category, Puentevella went beyond sports to push Diaz over the top.
“Atin talaga ’to. Hindi sa China ito. Ang West Philippine Sea atin talaga, kaya kinuha talaga ni Hidilyn kahapon. Kahapon sabi ko talaga, ‘Talunin mo ’yang Tsina na ’yan. Talunin mo,’” he said.
“Tinalo na tayo niyan ng ilang beses kaya gumanti ka na.”
Puentevella said he thought the Chinese team could bend Diaz, who is also coached by a Chinese.
“Akala ng Chinese coaches bugbugin pa rin nila si Hidi. Sanay sila na talunin si Hidi but this one is a different Hidi. Talagang nakita ng Pilipinas na maski ano’ng problema, ano’ng dinaanang hirap pero kaya. She wants to show kahit gaano kahirap, lalaban tayo,” Puentevella said.
“Palagay ko pati Chinese coaches kagabi na-shock natin sila. Kasi di nila akalain na sasamahan sila ni Hidi hanggang sa last lifting ng barbel.”
Diaz wrote history on Monday when she ended the 97-year gold medal drought of the Philippines at the Olympic Games.
This is the second Olympic medal by Diaz, who is competing in her fourth straight Olympics, after taking home silver in the 2016 edition of the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.