MANILA - Hidilyn Diaz said Sunday it was only this weekend that she has totally accepted the fact that she won a gold medal at the Olympics, which is also the country's first.
"Tanggap ko na, na gold medalist ako. Kasi, nung una, parang hindi ako makapaniwala. Then, siguro, kahapon ko natanggap nung nakapagpahinga na ako," Diaz told Vice President Leni Robredo during the latter's weekly radio show.
(I've accepted it already that I'm a gold medalist. At first, it was hard for me to believe. Then, I think it was yesterday, after having taken a good rest that I have accepted it.)
Diaz won the women’s 55kg of weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, giving the Philippines its first gold medal almost 100 years since the country debuted at the international sports competition.
She bested 8 other competitors in her category, including world-record holder Liao Qiuyun of China, after lifting an Olympic record of 224 kilograms.
Since that time, Diaz said she got preoccupied with so many activities, including countless interviews, something that "overwhelmed" her although she had expected it after winning the silver medial during the 2016 Olympics.
"Thankful ako dun, sa lahat. Pero, na-overwhelm pa rin ako. Pero ngayon, nasabi ko na, 'Oo nga 'no, gold medal.' Pero, nakikita ko pa rin yung responsibility after the glory," she told Robredo.
(I'm thankful for all the activities I had to go through after my victory. But I was really overwhelmed. So it was only now that I realized, 'Yes, I got the gold medal.' And then I realized my responsibilities after the glory.)
In the same interview, Diaz recounted her journey as a weightlifter, especially the struggles she had to endure, as well as the strategy they took at the actual competition.
She shared also that she had dreamt about being a member of the Philippine Air Force since she was young.
Diaz was promoted to Staff Sergeant following her record-breaking victory at the Tokyo Olympics.
"Bata pa lang kami, 'pag sumasali po kami sa national team, yun na po ang pangarap ng bawat Filipino athlete, na makapasok sa military. Para sa'min po kasi, di po kami forever na weightlifter, kailangan po namin magtrabaho after ng career namin," she said.
(Since I was young, when we joined the national team, it's every Filipino athlete's dream to enter the military. For us, we won't forever compete, we need to have work after our career in sports.)
"Saka gusto ko rin sa Philippine Air Force kasi pangarap ko nung bata pa ko, kasi taga-Zamboanaga ako, marami akong kapitbahay na sundalo... Pag laki, sabi ko gusto ko magsundalo."
(I also wanted to join the Philippine Air Force because it was my dream since I was a child-- because I'm from Zamboanga, I have many neighbors who were soldiers... I said I want to become one when I grow up.)
She also said she has forgiven Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador “Sal” Panelo for presenting a supposed matrix showing people, including her, allegedly plotting to overthrow the Duterte government in 2019.
“As a Catholic and Christian, napatawad ko na po siya,” she said. “May rason kung bakit nangyari iyon. Eto, naiuwi ko ang gold para sa Pilipinas.”
(As a Catholic and Christian, I've forgiven him. There's a reason why it happened. I took home the gold for the Philippines.)
Diaz underscored the amount of support she needed just to be able to win the elusive Olympic gold.
“Para maka-produce tayo ng mas maraming Hidilyn Diaz… maganda sana na bago pa ang kompetisyon, sama-samang sumusuporta ang lahat. Pinakita mo na kaya eh, kaya ng Pilipino,” Robredo said.
(So we can produce more Hidilyn Diaz...it would be good for everyone to come together before the competition. She showed that the Filipino can do it.)
--Reports from Gillan Ropero and Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News