Diaz ends search for SEAG gold

    HAVING won an Olympic silver medal and an Asian Games gold medal, you would think that weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz had previously stamped her mark in the Southeast Asian Games.

    Well, her long-awaited gold in the biennial games finally came yesterday.

    Sporting a fierce, boyish short hair look, Diaz captured the gold medal in the women’s 55kg division of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

    The Zamboanga native had failed twice before in her bid for the gold – in the 2011 Indonesia and 2013 Myanmar Games. Winning the gold before her countrymen certainly made it sweeter.

    Diaz, 28, lifted 91 kilograms in the snatch and followed it up with 120 in the clean and jerk for a total of 211kg. Thi Thuy Nguyen of Vietnam bagged the silver with a total of 197kg while Indonesian Juliana Klarisa took the bronze with a total of 175kg.

    Diaz, a Philippine Air Force sergeant, admitted that she felt the pressure to deliver, especially with her parents watching.

    “First time ko mag-perform na nandito iyong nanay at tatay ko. Alam ko iyong nanay ko medyo nerbyosa pero masaya and exciting din kahit may pressure,” said Diaz. “Buti na lang nagawa ko ng maayos and I really want to thank God at sa lahat ng nagdasal kasi I can’t do it alone kung hindi dahil sa lahat ng Pilipino na sumuporta.”

    After an initial 88kg in the snatch, she improved to 91kg on her second try but failed at her attempt for 94kg .In the clean and jerk, Diaz lifted 110kg and 115kg in the first two lifts before getting the job done by lifting 120 that sent the good-sized Filipino crowd in frenzy.

    “Malaki iyong naging bunga ng training ko. Nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng taong pumunta sa araw na ito. Maraming-maraming salamat po!” said Diaz, who was mobbed by fans at the stage after the awarding ceremonies.

    Finally a SEA Games champion, the 4-foot-11 Diaz will now train her sights on the biggest prize: the gold in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

    “This year has been so good to me and I’ve made a large progress in terms of training and technique,” offered Diaz. “We’re on the right track for Tokyo 2020.”