Weightlifting superstar Hidilyn Diaz on Thursday received her P3 million check from Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero (1-Pacman Partylist) as her financial reward for winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal in the Tokyo Games.
Romero personally and excitedly handed the check to Diaz eight days since the proud daughter of Zamboanga City arrived from Tokyo where she enshrined her name in the pantheon of greats, becoming the first Filipino athlete to win the precious medallion.
“I personally delivered the promise I made last month because the joy and pride Hidilyn gave to our country were immeasurable. This will open for other athletes to work harder to aspire their dreams,” said Romero during a simple hand over at the Sofitel Hotel where Diaz and other members of her team stayed for a seven-day quarantine.
“We are really proud of you, Hidilyn. You embody the traits of a great warrior. Hoping every Olympics, may gold medal tayo.”
To which Diaz said: “Naniniwala akong sa kakayahan ng atletang Filipino. Kaya yan!.”
Romero also said the day Diaz carried the entire nation on her broad shoulders to the great heights should be celebrated annually starting next year because what she did was extraordinary.
“I can still feel the magnitude of her victory,” said Romero, who was accompanied by AirAsia executive Eric Arejola.
Not only did Diaz end the country’s 97 long years of agony and misfortunes on July 26, but she also almost reduced her touted Chinese rival to tears as she won the 55-kilogram category in record fashion.
Diaz lifted an Olympic record 127kg in the clean and jerk – her pet event – on the third and final attempt.
“That made her victory sweeter and memorable because it was an Olympic record,” added Romero who was part of the PH delegation to the 2012 London Games that saw Diaz appearing in her second Olympic appearance.
A silver medal winner in Rio Games five years ago, Diaz thanked Romero for being a genuine sports patron, saying his generosity will greatly help Filipino athletes in so many ways in their desire to be heroes and heroines someday.
Romero pledged to give financial rewards to members of Team Pilipinas who win medals in the Tokyo Games – P3-million for gold, P2M for silver, and P1M for bronze.
“I am praying that we could overcome the health crisis we are facing right now so we could give Hidilyn and other Tokyo heroes a fitting tribute,” added Romero.
“The queen deserves it.”