“It is with great pride and joy that we congratulate Ms. Hidilyn Diaz for her historic performance at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.”
The country’s Catholic bishops issued the statement on Tuesday, July 27, following Diaz’s Olympic win a day earlier.
The Filipina weightlifter won the first gold medal for the Philippines in the women’s 55-kilogram weightlifting event. She made an Olympic record after lifting a combined weight of 224 kilograms.
“On behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, I extend my utmost gratitude to Hidilyn for bringing honor to our country with her determined spirit and undying passion for what she does,” read the statement signed by Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The prelate noted that in one of the photos of the victorious athlete holding her gold medal a “Miraculous Medal of Our Lady” is seen hanging on her chest.
“We admire her devotion to the Blessed Mother as she carried in her victory her great faith in God,” said Archbishop Valles.
“Hidilyn is a true weightlifter who draws her strength from her love for the country and her deep Catholic faith,” added the archbishop.
“Congratulations, Hidilyn! May the Lord continue to bless you with perseverance!”
Diaz became the Philippines’ first ever Olympic gold medalist after winning the women’s 55 kg category for weightlifting at Tokyo 2020.
In her fourth and probably last Olympics, the 30-year-old lifted a combined weight of 224 kg, an Olympic record.
After completing her final lift in a very close competition, Diaz held her hands to her face and burst into tears before embracing her coaches and clutching at the medallion around her neck.
On the podium, a still-tearful Diaz stood to attention saluting as she belted out her country’s national anthem at the top of her voice.
Diaz competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics where she was the youngest competitor in the women’s 58-kg category.
She was a bronze medalist in the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand and achieved 10th place at the 2006 Asian Games in the 53-kilogram class.
While a student of the Universidad de Zamboanga representing her university, she won two golds and one silver in the Asian Youth/Junior Weightlifting Championship held in Jeonju, South Korea.
In the 2016 Summer Olympics, Diaz won the silver medal in the women’s 53-kg weight division, ending the Philippines’ 20-year Olympic medal drought.
She is also the first Filipino woman to win an Olympic medal of any color. – with a report from Reuters