By Gab Ferreras, contributing writer
"There no place like home" , said in a quote from The Wizard of Oz. And Hidilyn Diaz feels that she is back home as she made history as the first Filipino to snatch the gold medal in the Olympics.
After 19 months of training in a backyard gym in Malaysia and joining two major competitions, the Asian Championships in Uzbekistan and the Tokyo Olympics in Japan, Diaz arrived in the country past 5:45 pm last July 28, Wednesday in a simple homecoming rites, which was highlighted by a virtual courtesy call with no less than the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte. Diaz also loses phone and passport upon her arrival at NAIA but returned to her immediately.
"Napakasmooth ng biyahe paguwi, pero siyempre noong di pa ako makapaniwala na nasa eroplano pauwi, pabalik ng Pilipinas kasi for almost 2 years, di ako umuuwi sa Pilipinas dahil sa pandemic, sabi ko ganito pala ang feeling na parang OFW din ang feels.", Diaz said in one of the TV interviews yesterday.
"Greatful ako kay Pres. Duterte na nagkaroon ako ng virtual courtesy call with him, then para sa akin kasi, thankful ako. Kung anuman ang nangyari last time, siguro sa akin, i learned to forgive after makuha ng gold medal, sabi ko lahat ng pinagdaraan ko may rason. It makes me more stronger and more wiser at alam mo yun nabigyan ako ng courage to dream high and to do my best sa training for the country.", Diaz added.
Diaz, along with some members of Team HD are now undergoing quarantine procedures at a hotel in Pasay City. No definite plans yet on her planned grand homecoming in Zamboanga despite the prevailing COVID-19 situation, of which Metro Manila will place under ECQ starting August 6-20, and Zamboanga extends its GCQ status. But Diaz is excited to come back home and to spend time with her parents and relatives in the Latin City of Asia.
"Siguro paguwi ko, gusto ko na magkasama nanay at tatay, yakapin lang, walang gagawin tapos kasama mga pamangkin ko kasi namimiss ko mga pamangkin ko... siguro kakain sama-sama kasi yung ang nakakamiss during pandemic, kasama mo yung pamilya mo, mahawakan sila, medyo matatagal-tagal ako di sila nakasama, magluluto, magiihaw, basta masarap.", Diaz added.
Hidilyn also showed support to her fellow Kababayan, Eumir Marcial and the other remaining medal hopefuls in the Tokyo Olympics, including Nesthy Petecio and EJ Obiena who are vying to get the podium finishes at the bottom-end of the Olympics. She also expressed her personal gratitude to different companies who are pledged cash incentives, condo and housing units, and free perks for Diaz, including free flights, free fuel, free food and buffet, lifetime membership in fitness gyms, 1 year supply of alcohol and liniment, free ice cream, among others.
"Unang-una, gusto ko magpasalamat sa lahat ng companies na nagbigay ng awards, pera o incentives, thank you so much. Sa totoo lang, di ko iniisip ako, may plano ako mag-ipon, alam mo naman na hindi tayo forever na atleta pero sa ngayon, ayoko magfocus doon, kasi ginagawa ko ito for the love of sports, sa Philippines, and for my dream ng Team HD. Medyo siyempre ako rin nagbibigla lang ako sa laki pero di ko pa alam kung ano ang next.", Diaz ended.
Hidilyn made history once more after winning the gold medal in the women's -55 kg class of Tokyo Olympics, while setting new game records in Clean & Jerk (127 kg) and Total (227 kg).