Olympic fever reached its peak here in the country as weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history by winning the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The 30-year-old Zamboangueña also set an Olympic record, clinching the top spot by lifting a combined weight of 224 kilograms. If I may wax dramatic about it, it must have felt heavier, carrying a whole nation’s fervent hope and elusive dream — which Diaz now made into a reality. In an interview immediately after her win, she shared that she still cannot believe it, that she won gold. But that is not all she won.
After news broke that Diaz won the top prize, an overflow of praise and congratulatory messages went her way, and deservedly so. Her sacrifice and hard work were rewarded with numerous cash incentives from the government, foundations and businesses. A condominium and house and lots were also given to the hardworking athlete, as well.
Of course, the automotive industry did not pass up the chance to show its utmost appreciation for the country’s first Olympic gold medalist.
Foton Motor Philippines was first in gifting Diaz with a brand-new vehicle. A day after her historic win, it announced that Diaz will receive its TransVan 13-seater that it said would be perfect for her family leisure trips and business tours. I think it is just a perfect vehicle to ferry around the dedicated athlete and her whole team called #TeamHD.
Then, after Ayala Foundation dubbed Diaz as “Atletang Magiting,” AC Motors announced that it will be awarding the heroic athlete a top-of-the-line Kia Stonic 1.4 EX AT. It is an eye-catching five-seater subcompact crossover that is a great ride for an athlete with a winning style that’s so iconic. Those who might be familiar with the rhyming tagline of the vehicle, please reserve your applause ‘till the end of this column. Applause should also be given to Ayala Corporation, parent-company of Kia Philippines, for supporting Diaz and the weightlifting community for years before Diaz won big at this year’s Olympics.
Now that Diaz has a 13-seater van and a nifty crossover, what would go best with those gifts? No need to think long for Phoenix Petroleum already answered — a lifetime of free fuel for the Filipina athlete. This incentive, plus the five-million cash reward, will be coming from the oil firm’s Siklab Atleta Pilipinas Sports Foundation which started its operations in 2018.
The weightlifter will also never lift a finger to pay for her vehicles’ inspections as well after the Vehicle Inspection Center Operators Association of the Philippines, which operate private motor vehicle inspection centers, rewarded her with free lifetime vehicle inspection.
Apart from these, she also got free lifetime meals at some restaurants, lifetime free flights from AirAsia and 80,000 miles from flag-carrier Philippine Airlines. It is great that she was given cars and free fuel so she can easily drive to those restaurants and be taken to the airport when she has flights.
Kidding aside, there might be some who may argue that all of these are excessive. That Filipino culture seems to only reward success but is wholly absent during the struggle or journey toward it. Diaz is most likely not the only athlete who can attest to the latter being a correct assumption.
A viral meme from a plastics brand with a wildly popular social media team even straightforwardly asked businesses and brands not to be fake or plastic, citing the same plastics brand’s non-support of Diaz during her pre-Olympic gold days. This is both self-deprecating and truthful, thereby effective, advertising. I hope that Diaz’s win serves to remind brands, businesses and especially government agencies, that it is high time that we support all our athletes on their journeys to success. But I digress.
In an interview for a local morning talk show, Diaz shared that as much as she appreciates the gifts, the cash, the cars and the incentives, she worked hard and persevered for one thing and one thing only: an Olympic gold. And she got it. And with it, she brought pride to our island nation. Before her historic and record-setting win, the country had 10 medals — three silvers and seven bronzes.
Now, after 97 years, the Philippines finally has its first gold and is perhaps looking to get more. And it all started with Hidilyn Diaz. So, no, the rewards that she is getting are not excessive. She deserves all of them.
Congratulations, Hidilyn! Thank you for lifting the whole Filipino nation. Mabuhay ka! And to all our athletes at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics, we are all proud of you.