HIDILYN Diaz has hardly visited Baguio City; unlike boxers Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial who both studied at the University of Baguio while training here.
As of this writing, both Petecio and Marcial are still in the running for the now-no-longer-elusive gold.
But it was Hidilyn who took away the national pressure from us.
Just imagine – the first Olympic gold for the Philippines after we joined the Games 97 years ago!
Already, Hidilyn has been showered with cash and gifts so that she could be P50 million richer by now. To think that two years ago, she was shamed in social media for begging for funds in pursuit of the gold.
We may all know how her story went since then. How she acquired a team that included a Chinese coach and a Filipino nutritionist and a woman psychologist. And a boyfriend who acts as her assistant coach.
How she trained clandestinely in Malaysia to get away from nosy relatives and harsh critics back home.
How she outmaneuvered her Chinese opponent in the Art of War.
And this from a woman who is 55 kilograms heavy (of course, that’s her category in weightlifting) and only 4’11 (some say, 5’2’’ in height.
Which brings us to the point of our story.
Hidilyn may not be from the Cordillera but her life and physique is surely similar to a Cordilleran woman.
We have the stocky built ideal for weightlifting.
We already have used that built for combat sports and martial arts, which is why Team Lakay has become a household word here.
We currently have a lot of Cordillerans competing in taekwondo, judo, arnis, mixed martial arts, muay Thai, wrestling, karate, and wushu. And yet we have no weightlifters.
We certainly have strong women here. Even our camineros are female, carrying huge rocks to build roads. In fact, the rice terraces were not built only by men but also by women.
This early, we can start our weightlifting program based only on Hidilyn’s success story.
Our LGUs can begin establishing weight gyms and start hiring coaches and trainers. Forget basketball courts.
She started competing in the Olympics when she was 17, not even knowing what she was doing there in Beijing at that time. In her second Olympics in London, she failed to finish. In Rio, she got the silver.
Filipina Elreen Ando, who competed in the 64 kg weightlifting category, is only 22 and has already placed 7th in her category. Maybe in the next Olympics, she would have a podium finish.
Young Cordilleran girls should start dreaming strong. We were used to digging gold from our rocks; maybe now, it’s time for us to start lifting these rocks to find gold instead.