MANILA - China's team at the Olympics in Tokyo is supposedly angry at the Chinese coach of Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz for not warning them about her improved skill and capability in weightlifting, the Filipino champion said Thursday.
"Hindi makapaniwala 'yung China na ganito na 'ko kalakas. Siyempre, si Coach (Gao Kaiwen) din, hindi niya na-share sa China. Medyo nagalit kasi yung China din sa kaniya, kasi hindi niya na-share saan 'yung lakas ko," Diaz said in an interview on ANC.
(China could not believe I am already this strong now. Of course, my coach did not share it with China. They were somehow mad because he did not share my strengths ahead of the games.)
On TV Patrol later in the day, Diaz said the Chinese team were apparently surprised by her capabilities now because she only ranked 4th during the Asian championship last April which China dominated.
"So, hindi nila in-expect na malakas na ako ngayong Olympics. So, hindi sila nagtanong, sabi ni Coach Gao," she said.
(So, they did not expect that I'm stronger now in this Olympics. They also did not ask Coach Gao about my capabilities now.)
China is a known powerhouse in international weightlifting, bagging almost all medals every Olympic Games.
This can be the reason why it is personal to them, Diaz said, and it must include the expectation that Gao would at least share information about her with his compatriots.
"Siguro, pero ang tingin kasi nila sa akin, for how many competition na na nagawa ko... 'di nila nakita yung best ko... So sabi nila, 'Ay, hindi yan mananalo si Diaz. Hindi 'yan. Imposible yan. So, nabigla sila na malakas ako."
(They did not see my best yet because for how many competition, that's how they saw me. They must have thought I will not win. so, they were surprised that I was that strong last Monday.)
During the ANC interview, Diaz said, "Sabi ko, siyempre, bakit mo ishe-share?... Pero siyempre nandito kasi siya para mag-work, to work for me, para palakasin ako. Siyempre, mixed feeling yun sa atin kasi nga dahil sa political, international scene sa atin."
(Why would he share? He was here to work for me, to make me strong. But he had mixed feelings because of the political, international issues.)
According to her, Gao also had "mixed feelings" given the present political climate amid the tensions in the South China Sea where China and the Philippines have overlapping claims.
China continues to disregard the UN-backed arbitral ruling rejecting their expansive claims in the disputed waters, and instead ramped up militarization and island building in the resource-rich area.
Diaz said he never doubted Gao's commitment to train her well despite political issues hounding their two countries.
"Hindi ko inisip 'yun, kasi alam ko kung ano yung core values ni Coach Gao. Alam kong totoo siyang tao," she said when asked by anchor Noli de Castro on TV Patrol.
(It didn't occur in my mind, because I know the core values of Coach Gao. I know he is sincere.)
She said Gao and the rest of her team knows she is capable of carrying the weight that gave her the Olympic gold medal because they prepared well for it, despite failed attempts during her training.
Diaz shocked the world on Monday 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.
"Walang giyera pero nai-presenta ko ang Pilipinas, natalo ko ang China," she said.
(There was no war that happened but I was able to represent the Philippines and defeat China.)
Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas chief Monico Puentevella earlier this week admitted that one of the things he used to motivate the athlete was the issue on the resource-rich waterways, and how many times China defeated her during her bouts.
Puentevella said he thought the Chinese team could bend the Filipino athlete.
“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,” he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo last Tuesday.
(The Chinese coaches thought Hidilyn could be defeated. They are used to defeating her. But this time, it's different. They witnessed the Philippines' resilience despite any problems. We will fight. She wants to show that despite the difficulties, we will fight.)
Diaz, who is also a member of the Philippine Air Force, told foreign news correspondents in Manila that the West Philippine Sea belongs to the Philippines, even if her knowledge on international political matters remain limited.
"Sa ordinary people na wala masyadong alam about sa [nine-dash] line, and sa international dispute or international political thing, gusto ko lang sabihin sa kanila, na ito ang alam ko: na sa atin ang West Philippine Sea," she said, when asked about an instance where she was pictured wearing a shirt with the name of the sea.
(To the ordinary people out there who have little knowledge about the so-called nine-dash line and the international dispute or international politics, I would like to tell you that this is what I know: the West Philippine Sea is ours.)
China's embassy in the Philippines, in a Facebook post last Tuesday, congratulated Diaz for her victory.