Diaz plans to build weight-lifting gym with Olympic prize money

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2016 11:49 AM

MANILA, Philippines – After ending the Philippines' two-decade medal drought in the Olympics, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz is now thinking about paying it forward.

Diaz made history on Sunday in Rio (Monday morning in Manila) when she lifted 200-kg to claim the silver in the women's 53-kg division, in the process becoming the first Filipina to win an Olympic medal, and ending the Philippines' medal drought that stretched all the way back to 1996.

READ: Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz claims silver in Rio

The historic feat means that Diaz stands to receive a P5 million bonus as per the terms of Republic Act 10699, or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.

"'Yung pera, gusto ko gamitin para sa pagbili ng lupa sa side ng bahay namin," Diaz told Dyan Castillejo of ABS-CBN News in a phone interview shortly after her triumph. "Gusto kong gawing gym 'yun na pang weight-lifting lang."

"Gagawin ko s'yang weight-lifting gym para sa public," she explained. "Plano ko talaga 'yun, since December pa po."

"Since wala akong pera, 'yun 'yung naging motivation ko para kunin ang medal."

The silver medal was also a tremendous birthday gift for her mother, who is celebrating her birthday back home.

Before competing in Rio, Diaz took the time to greet her mother, Emelita, on Facebook, and thank her for the "unlimited prayers and novena."

The 25-year-old Diaz started weightlifting as an 11-year-old, lifting pieces of Ipil wood while being tutored by her cousins, who were all enthusiasts of the sport.

She was discovered as a 13-year-old in the Mindanao Friendship Games, and since then, has represented the country in various international competitions including three consecutive Olympic Games.

Diaz made her Olympic debut in Beijing in 2008, finishing 11th out of 12 competitors after making it as wildcard entry. Four years later in London, she failed to complete her lift in the clean and jerk after a strong start in the snatch.

In Rio, however, Diaz would not be denied.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)