WEIGHTLIFTER Hidilyn Diaz has been given the honor of carrying the Philippine flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics on July 27.
The decision, finalized during the Philippine Olympic Committee’s expanded board meeting on Wednesday, gives the Zamboanga native the privilege accorded boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao four years ago in Beijing.
Diaz, who will compete in the Olympics for the second consecutive time, will join an elite group of flag bearers that includes tennis players Rafael Nadal (Spain), Novak Djokovic (Serbia), Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) and Maria Sharapova (Russia).
“Of course, it’s an honor. She deserves it because she will be competing in the Olympics for the second time,” Philippine Weighlifting Federation president Monico Puentevella said.
That was exactly one of the reasons why Diaz was selected, according to Philippine chief of mission Manny Lopez.
“We also want to give the Mindanaoans a fair chance to represent the country,” said Lopez.
Several athletes decline the honor especially if their events come too close to the opening ceremony. But Lopez said that it won't be an issue for Diaz, who is scheduled to compete on July 30.
“Being a weightlifter, carrying the Philippine flag also won’t be a burden [for her],” Lopez added.
Other athletes who were considered to carry the flag were swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi, judoka Tomohiko Hoshina and shooter Brian Rosario.
Four years ago, Pacquiao became the first non-participant to be a flag-bearer in the Olympics for the Philippines.