Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz revealed the China team got mad at her Chinese head coach Gao Kaiwen for not sharing with them how strong she is, surprising them during the women’s 55-kg Group A division event in the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, July 26.
Diaz has been training with Gao since after her stint in the 2018 Asian Games. In an interview with the press, Gao said he has mixed feelings after Diaz beat his countrymen in the Olympics. The 30-year-old Filipina weightlifter beat China's Liao Qiuyun for the gold medal.
"Hindi makapaniwala ang China na ganito na ako kalakas, then syempre si Coach din, hindi niya na-share sa China. Medyo nagalit kasi ang China din sa kanya kasi hindi niya na-share kung saan na yung lakas ko,” she told Karen Davila on the cable news program Headstart on Thursday, July 29.
Diaz added, "Siyempre ang (sabi) ko, ‘Bakit niya ishe-share?’ Nandito kasi siya para mag-work, to work for me para palakasin ako."
"So, syempre mixed feelings ‘yun sa atin kasi nga dahil sa political, international (issue)… yung sea natin. Walang giyera, pero nai-representa ko ang Pilipinas, natalo ko ang China.”
Diaz said she thinks the China team underestimated her as they have not seen her at her best prior to the Olympics. She added that Quiyun is a weightlifting powerhouse, having previously lifted 97-kg and 98-kg in the snatch segment and 128-kg and 129-kg in the clean-and-jerk segments in her previous women’s 55-kg weighlifting tournaments.
Diaz lifted 97-kg in her snatch program and 127-kig in the clean-and-jerk segment, bagging the gold medal.
"Ang tingin kasi nila sa akin, for how many competitions na nagawa ko, ang total ko is 214, 215 lang. Hindi nila nakita yung best ko… So nung laro, nabigla sila na malakas ako," she added.
Being the first Filipino to win a gold medal at the Olympics, Hidilyn said she is thankful that the Philippine government may now realize what Filiino athletes need in terms of support to sustain this kind of performance.
"Para hindi lang ako yung first gold, (para) marami tayong gold na sunod-sunod," she said.
"Siguro ako yung parang naging pioneer nito na, ah, ganito pala, kung gusto natin manalo ng gold medal, kailangan natin suportahan ang atleta."
Asked what she thinks Filipino athletes need from the government, aside from government aid and support, Hidilyn said: "Listen. Listen kung ano yung kailangan ng isang atleta. Kailangan nyo pong makinig, kailangan nyo pong umupo kasama ang atleta para maramdaman ng isang atleta na andyan kayo at sumusuporta."
Banner photo: Philippine Olympic gold medallist Hidilyn Diaz waves to photographers as she arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on July 28, following her return home after she won gold in the women's 55kg weightlifting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo from AFP