RIO DE JANEIRO — If there is someone more shocked and surprised that the Philippines won a silver medal in the Olympics after 20 long years, it would be none other than Hidilyn Diaz herself.
The country's latest heroine admitted she never expected to win the silver medal in the women’s 53kg division of the Olympics, saying all she was aiming for really was the bronze medal.
“Sobrang saya. Unexpected na makauwi ako ng pilak,” she said upon her return to the Athletes Village following her victory that ended the 20-year medal drought in the Olympiad.
“Na-shock ako sobra. Kakaiba talaga ‘yung way ni God na kapag si God ang gumagalaw sa buhay mo kung magtitiwala ka,” added Diaz, a bronze medalist in the 2015 World Championship in Houston.
Diaz’s guaranteed bronze turned into silver after an unlikely turn of events.
She star slowly with a lift of 88kg in the snatch, but got her confidence back after seeing the performance of her competitors in the clean and jerk, which she considers her strength.
Diaz assured herself of the bronze medal when she lifted 112 kilograms in the clean and jerk, for a total of 200 kilograms, besting Yoon Jun Hee of South Korea by just a kilo.
“Talagang wala akong kumpiyansa sa snatch ko. Sa clean and jerk, nung nalaman ko resulta ng Korean, sabi ni coach mag-111 ka lang, kunin mo na ‘yan, kasi sa clean and jerk, kaya ko ‘yun. Nung nakita ko na mahina kalaban ko sa clean and jerk, ang saya ko,” said Diaz.
But to her surprise, Diaz was elevated to silver when China’s Li Yajun, only needing a good lift to at least secure the silver medal, failed in her final two attempts at lifting 123 kilos to miss out on a podium finish.
“First time ko siya nakalaban,” said Diaz of the Chinese favorite. “Ang lakas niya. Pero nandoon na ‘yung gold sa kanya eh, bakit pa niya binitawan? In four years pa niya uli makukuha ‘yun.”
Diaz said she only learned about her silver finish when the Korean camp celebrated after Li's failed attempts.
“Hindi ko rin alam (‘yung nangyari). Nagpe-pray na ako sa corner tapos biglang tumawa ‘yung Korea dahil na-zero pala ‘yung China. Gold na, binitiwan pa niya,” said Diaz.