Press Release
August 14, 2016

Koko: Senate to honor Olympic silver medal winner Hidilyn Diaz

Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III today said Olympic heroine Hidilyn Diaz will be formally honored by the Senate in simple but fitting ceremonies during one of its regular sessions.

He said several senators have already filed separate Senate resolutions, heaping praise and recognition on the silver medal winner of the Rio Olympic Games for bringing tremendous honor and glory to the country.

Pimentel said the entire nation was simply overwhelmed by the stunning feat of Diaz, who buried the ghost of her back-to-back setbacks in the past Olympiads to win the silver medal in the 53-kg. division of weightlifting.

Diaz, now a first class Airwoman in the Philippine Air Force, had previously entertained doubts to give up the sport after her first two failures in the Olympics and a bungled attempt to qualify for the Southeast Asian Games.

But she later on decided to give it one more try upon the prodding of her coach, setting aside her dream to work in the United States, reducing weight and focusing mainly at the Rio Olympics to fulfil a 14-year old longing.

Pimentel said the awe-inspiring performance of Diaz ended the country's 20-year long medal drought in the Summer Olympics after boxer Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco brought home the silver medal from the Atlanta Games in 1996.

He described the stellar achievement of the bashful Filipina as a "wonderful triumph of courage and indomitable will of the Filipino athlete" even ranged against the well-prepared and well-equipped athletes in world sports.

Pimentel said Diaz also booked a record of sorts in Philippine sports as the first non-boxer to win an Olympic silver medal, the first woman to claim Olympic honor and the first Mindanaonon to join the elite corps of Olympic medallists.

"She is the toast of the country, a courageous girl who trained hard to pursue a dream. Her never-say-die spirit should inspire us to aim higher," he said, hoping the country would also draw inspiration from her dogged determination.

"There is tenacity within her, and strength of character," said Pimentel, who is also from Mindanao, adding that these are the rare and delightful attributes that have endeared the petite weightlifter to her burgeoning fans.

Diaz returned quietly Thursday night to a glad and grateful nation, sans a ticker tape parade, and met with President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City where she received a P2 million government incentive from the Chief Executive.

She is also expected to get more rewards, including a brand new house and lot from a realty firm, and a surprise package from fellow Mindanaonon, boxing icon Senator Manny Pacquiao, chairman of the Senate Committee on sports.

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