Asian Games: Hidilyn Diaz’s feat amazes, inspires PH basketball team

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2018 08:50 PM | Updated as of Aug 22 2018 08:51 PM

Gold winner Hidilyn Diaz is flanked by silver medalist Kristina Shermetova (left) of Turkmenistan and and bronze medalist Surodchana Khambao of Thailand in the women's 53-kilograms category in the Asian Games weightlifting competition at Jakarta International Expo Kemayoran in Indonesia on Tuesday. Diaz has earned the praise of her countrymen, including the Philippine men's national basketball team. Darren Whiteside, Reuters

JAKARTA—Poy Erram was not about to waste an opportunity to take a photo with an Asian Games gold medalist.

It was early morning on Wednesday at the athletes’ village, and he ran into Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who the night before had given the Philippines its first gold medal of these Games.

“Kakagising ko pa lang noon, tapos noong nakita ko siya, na-starstruck ako,” Erram told ABS-CBN News. “Siyempre, unang gold ng Pilipinas.”

“Sobrang laki ng respeto ko para kay Hidilyn, and sobrang proud na nakapagbigay siya ng gold para sa Pilipinas,” he added.

Showing off the picture that he took with the three-time Olympian, the 6-foot-7 Erram marveled at the athletic achievement of Diaz.

“Hanggang bewang ko lang, pero ang binubuhat niya, mas mabigat pa sa akin,” he said of the 27-year-old weightlifter who is officially listed at 4-foot-11.

Diaz’s feat came shortly after the Philippine basketball team fell agonizingly short, 82-80, to China, and the players said they are more inspired than ever to strive harder after watching the Zamboanga native make the country proud.

“To see a fellow athlete go up the podium and with the gold medal, it makes us so proud. And it makes us wish na we can do the same for our country by bringing home a medal,” said Chris Tiu, who has been keeping track of Diaz’s career ever since her first Olympic stint in Beijing in 2008.

“Weightlifting doesn't get much media attention, but it's still a gold, and it's a reflection of the hard work, the perseverance, the sacrifices that she put in, mental and physical toughness.”

Erram noted that the hardships that Diaz endured in her life proved to be no match to her determination to succeed.

“Alam naman natin kung ano pinagdaanan niya, so hindi hindrance kung ano ang pinagdadaanan mo to achieve something na ganoon kalaki. So malaking respect to her na makuha niya yung gold,” he said.

For Beau Belga, to see the diminutive Diaz lift the country’s hopes should only motivate the basketball team full of giants.

“Siyempre 'yun na rin ang magiging goal mo as a player. Nagiging motivation mo rin 'yun, 'di ba, and that kind of lady, with a 4-11 height tapos ganoon 'yung epekto niya sa bansa, paano pa kami, ang lalaki naming tao, 6-7, 6-footer, 'di ba? Siguro may magagawa rin naman kami na ganoon,” he said.

The Philippines has not won a medal in basketball since 1998, and if this year’s team wants to change that, they must first go through a Korean team that has traditionally proven to be the country’s tormentors.

“Hopefully, maka-survive kami,” said Belga. “Prepare na lang.”

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