On the podium Hidilyn Diaz celebrates with Our Lady's Miraculous Medal.
There were a lot of emotions when Hidilyn Diaz stood up on the podium to receive her Olympic gold medal — the first ever for the Philippines.
The 30-year-old maintained her salute as the country’s national anthem was playing, while tears flowed down her masked face. She had not only beaten her personal record by managing to raise and sustain a huge 279.9 pounds above her head, she’d also beaten the world record in her 55kg (or 121 pounds) weightlifting category.
The ceremony that took place in Tokyo on Monday was made even more special when the Olympian raised her medal to show the crowd. However, it wasn’t the glittering gold medal that she was showing off, but Our Lady’s Miraculous Medal that she also had around her neck.
The new champion expressed her surprise at being able to lift the impressive weight, sharing in her native tongue with Rappler:
“I did not expect to lift it yesterday. I guess that was God and all the people who prayed for me yesterday. I’m thankful to those who prayed and did the novena.”
Diaz’s medal is obviously very precious to her, along with the prayers of all those who’ve supported her along her route to victory. As she explained in Spin.Ph, a friend of hers had given her the medal, and had said a novena for her, as this translation shares:
“He had a novena for nine days, then I also had a novena. [It was a] sign of prayers and faith in Mama Mary and Jesus Christ.”
Her prayers and the prayers of all her friends, family, and fans were certainly answered. With the Philippines competing in the Olympics for 97 years, Diaz’s first win for the nation will no doubt be cause for a huge celebration.
This is especially the case when you consider that the country had some of the most severe quarantine restrictions in the world during the pandemic, making training extremely challenging.
In the run up to her 4th Olympics, having gained a silver at the Olympics in Rio, 2016, Diaz was trapped in Malaysia with no access to training equipment, initially just poles and water bottles acting as weights, and a will-power that could only be heaven sent.
“We thought it was impossible, I also thought it was impossible, this pandemic, we’re in a pandemic, the Olympics are impossible. But we are here now. So, we can do it. Don’t give up. Whatever the challenges and trials, let’s pray to God, He will guide us,” the champ shared with ABS-CBN News.
So, armed with her medal and her strong faith, Diaz exceeded all expectations. “I was surprised that I did that. God is exceptional,” she pointed out in an interview with Gretchen Ho of Cignal TV.
The quotations from Diaz are translations from the original quotes.