Top Philippine Football Federation officials lauded the historic achievement of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who ended the country’s 97-year wait for a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics last Monday night.
PFF president Mariano Araneta and PFF general secretary Edwin Gastanes, who are both part of the Philippine delegation in Tokyo, expressed elation over Diaz’s feat as the Lupang Hinirang was played for the first time in the Olympics.
Seeing action in her fourth Olympics, Diaz, 30, bested a strong field that included the world record holder from China.
“We are truly proud of the achievement of Hidilyn Diaz,” said Araneta, the Philippines’ Chef de Mission in the Olympics.
“We are very fortunate to be part of the Philippine delegation here in Tokyo. Being witness to the performances of our athletes is already a blessing, but seeing Hidilyn triumph and etch her name in the history books makes this experience even more memorable.”
Araneta had finished the day’s duties for the Philippine delegation inside the Olympic Village and settled in his hotel nearby, where he was monitoring the events at the competition venue.
“I was just praying for Hidilyn,” said Araneta, who had played a major role in the preparations for the Olympics, monitoring the activities of Tokyo-bound Filipino athletes who were training in different parts of the world.
Meanwhile, Gastanes was in the competition venue together with Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino, Philippine Sports Commission chair William Ramirez, Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella, and PFF Sports Medical Committee Vice Chairperson Dr. Randolph Molo to support Diaz.
“We prayed hard for Hidilyn to win the gold,” said Gastanes, who also serves as POC secretary-general. “It was truly inspiring to witness such a momentous event in our sporting history.”
Gastanes said Diaz’s triumph is an example that the Filipino athlete can overcome tremendous odds, and with genuine support from government and the private sector, Filipino athletes are capable of producing excellent performances in the biggest stage in sports.
“The preparation, focus, talent and power of prayer were on full display as Hidilyn made that final lift,” said Gastanes. “It’s a moment that we Filipinos will treasure forever.”