‘Citius, altius, fortius’

By : URIEL QUILINGUING Mindanao Today/08:26:07am 08/07/2021


After 97 years, Philippines has an Olympic gold medal!

Lupang Hinirang was played during the victory ceremonies of the world's biggest sporting event.

And it took a 4-foot-11-inch frame of Hidilyn Francisco Diaz, who can lift more than double her body weight, to capture the elusive Olympic gold medal on Monday, July 26, 2021 at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Diaz was in tears while the national anthem was played.

Her commitment and passion to her chosen sports event in the past 13 years, her exposures in international competitions, including her silver-medal feat in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, paid off.

The 30-year old Diaz ruled the 55-kg category after a 127-kg clean-and-jerk lift for a combined 224kg (plus the 97-kg best snatch) to edge her closest rival from China by a kilogram. Her total lifts, and the best clean-and-jerk were Olympic records.

These, aside from being the first Filipino to win a gold medal, and the second to win Olympic medals twice, and the P33-million promised cash incentives are enough reasons for her to retire from competitions for good.

Her services to the country, however, does not end. She is an active organic personnel of the Philippine Air Force as an airwoman sergeant.

With Diaz’ historic victory, Views from the South cannot help but take a glimpse of the country’s sports heroes in the past Olympics—those who made our forefathers and parents proud as Filipinos.

Other than Diaz’ second-place finish in the Olympics five years ago, boxers Mansueto Velasco (1996 Atlanta) and Anthony Villanueva (1964 Tokyo) produced the other two silver medals.

Seven Olympic bronze medals have been amassed by our Olympians, so far. Three of these from boxers Roel Velasco (1992 Barcelona), Leopoldo Serantes (1988 Seoul), and Jose Villanueva (1932 Los Angeles). Athletics netted two from Miguel White (400m hurdles, 1936 Berlin) and Simeon Toribio (high jump, 1932 Los Angeles).

Legendary swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso gave the Philippines--and Southeast Asia--the first Olympic medal, a bronze in 200m breaststroke in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands which he duplicated four years later in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, thus becoming the only Filipino to have won Olympic medals twice. This, until Diaz won her second medal, even better since it’s the country’s first gold.

The quest for the gold medal started in 1924 when the country had its debut appearance in the Olympics held in Paris, France.

Sprinter David Nepomuceno, who failed to advance in 100m and 200m heats, had the distinction of the country's first Olympian.

Meantime, of the 19 Filipino athletes that left for the Tokyo Olympics, 15 are still in contention in their events (as of this writing), out to prove their long years of physical trainings mental preparation they can be “faster, higher, and stronger”—beyond what they and others think of themselves—than their opponents.

These, notwithstanding the past and current sports development programs, public-private sector collaboration, and the package of incentives and benefits for Olympians.

Diaz, now an Olympic champion, has already proven to the world she is the stronger against anybody, and strongest among equals in her chosen event, women’s 55kg weightlifting.

After all, this is what “citius, altius, fortius,” the Olympics motto is all about – faster, higher, stronger—together.

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