MOST of the Philippine athletes have been calling Hidilyn Diaz as their "ate," a role that she has accepted even before winning the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
Diaz has been called as such, having been the most experienced athlete in the Olympics following her fourth appearance in Tokyo, which resulted in the Philippines winning that elusive gold medal.
“Kailangan ko sigurong tanggapin na tumatanda ako with experience sa sports at sa weightlifting,” said the 30-year-old Diaz with a smile. “Humuhugot sila ng inspirasyon sa akin kaya tinatawag nila akong ate.”
“Nandoon na ako eh,” said Diaz, referring to her Olympic experience. “Alam nila na-experience ko na, ang dami ko nang pinagdaanan.”
Bronze medalist Carlo Paalam attested that Diaz is one of his inspirations in his bid during the Tokyo Olympics, especially following her conquest in weightlifting.
“Malaki po talagang bagay sa amin si Ate Hidilyn,” said the 23-year-old Paalam. “Lalo na nung nag-start laro niya, parang tumayo balahibo ko lalo na nung pag-iyak ni Ate. Nainspire ako. Nakikita ko kasi siya sa PSC, nainspire ako sa mga na-achieve niya. At saka mabait talaga si Ate Hidilyn. Parang naiilang pa nga ako magpapicture kay Ate.”
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena also has kind words for Diaz as far as the Olympic experience is concerned.
“With Ate Hidilyn, she is a veteran. She tells me what are the things that I should be expecting… She has huge knowledge of the Olympic Games… Obviously, I don’t have an idea of the ins and outs of the Olympics. It helps to have someone that knows and already understands how big it is,” said Obiena, who placed 11th in his first Olympic appearance.
For her part, boxer Nesthy Petecio calls Diaz as "Champ" instead of "ate" since they are only a year apart in age, but she, too, has also been inspired by Diaz’s exploits in Philippine sports.
After the silver medal in Tokyo, Petecio is eyeing no less than a gold in Paris 2024, even saying that she will be after Diaz’s feat. "Hahabulin kita, Champ,” she said.
“Ang tawag ko talaga sa kanya ‘Champ’ kasi sobrang nakaka-inspire po talaga siya. Nung bago pa lang ako sa national team, nakikita ko na siya sa mga tarpaulin, dinidisplay na siya sa Philippine Sports Commission. Ang galing niya lalo nung nag-Olympics siya. Dati, sabi ko ng bata niya nakapasok [sa Olympics], gusto ko rin sumunod sa ganung edad.”
“Alam naman nating lahat na siya ang apple of the eye… kumbaga siya ang nagdadala sa Philippine sports. Sobrang grabe ang hatak niya sa amin especially nung nasa Olympic Village kami. Pinahawak niya ‘yung medalya at ‘yung si Mama Mary, pinahawa niya sa akin ‘yun,” said Petecio.
The Filipina weightlifter is glad to be able to become a positive influence to her fellow national athletes.
“Hopefully, it will serve as an inspiration sa kanila na ‘wag sumuko,” said Diaz.
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