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Welcome home, champ Hidilyn!

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Jul 28, 2021 8:46 pm

The Olympic gold medal champ is home!

After more than year of being away from the country, Hidilyn Diaz, the country’s first Olympic gold medallist, arrived at the NAIA Terminal 2 via Philippine Airlines at 5:51 p.m. on June 28, Wednesday.

As she arrived wearing her Olympic gold medal, she briefly waved to her supporters and members of the media and was escorted away. After a few moments, she emerged wearing her Philippine Air Force uniform and was immediately led to the airport’s Presidential Lounge, where she was welcomed by members of the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee.

Olympic gold medallist Hidilyn Diaz upon her arrival at the NAIA Terminal 2, Wednesday, June 28. Photo by KJ Rosales/The Philippine STAR

This is the first time that Diaz is coming back to the Philippines after she spent more than 17 months in Malaysia starting in February 2020 to focus on training to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. She wasn't able to go back home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Members of the Philippine Air Force lined up outside NAIA Terminal 2 as they held flags to welcome Diaz upon her arrival. Diaz was promoted to staff sergeant after her historic win at the Olympics.

Diaz will undergo a seven-day quarantine in a hotel in Pasay City.

Onboard the same Philippine Airlines flight was Diaz’s fellow street skateboarded Margielyn Didal, who ranked seventh overall.

According to a report by The STAR, the Philippine Sports Commission will bestow Diaz the gold medal of valor as part of the Expanded Athletes Incentives Act, which includes a P10-million incentive for an Olympic gold medal.

President Duterte and his Cabinet members congratulated and spoke with Diaz via a video call.

Banner and thumbnail photos by KJ Rosales/The Philippine STAR