For lifting the Filipino spirit, Hidilyn Diaz is 2016 Athlete of the Year

ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 30, 2016 03:50 PM
For lifting the Filipino spirit, Diaz is Athlete of the Year
Hidilyn Diaz, of the Philipines, competes in the women's 53kg weightlifting competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. Diaz won the silver medal. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Heading into 2016, eyes were focused on accessible sporting events and athletes that excite majority of the Filipinos who looked at sports as a means of entertainment.

In basketball, for example, where dreams of international success and fan support are high, but expectations are kept realistic.

Thus, Filipinos were locked in on local and commercial leagues, as years of Olympic struggle looked to continue in Rio.

But when Hidilyn Diaz, the unsung Zamboangeña bagged the silver medal in the women’s 53kg weightlifting event at the 2016 Rio Olympics for the Philippines’ first medal in 20 years, Filipinos were given hope to dream of even broader horizons.

Even though Hidilyn was already a two-time Olympian heading into Rio, she would be considered, like many Pinoy athletes competing in popular sports, under the radar compared to the likes of local athletes that dominated headlines day in and day out.

From that 17-year-old wild card pick in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and her DNF campaign in the 2012 London games, Hidilyn rose from her past drawbacks to become the first Filipina Olympic medalist.

Hidilyn’s resiliency to rise from her personal challenges brought hope to a disillusioned sporting country the moment she won the medal. She is living proof that hard work, with or without recognition, will pay off. 

Not only did she bring herself to victory in the biggest stage in sports, she also carried the Philippines on her unassuming yet capable shoulders to dream of even greater heights. 

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