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Wednesday, September 22, 2021
PAMPANGA

Pangan: Grim determination

At Close Range

SHE had set her sights after winning in the Southeast Asian Games and Rio Olympics. She worked very hard daily to approach her dream, no matter if her muscles ache every after hours of training. Her goal is unshakeable and indeed, she has achieved it finally -- at the Tokyo Olympics, where the best athletes of the world compete and win medals and acclamation.

Hidilyn Diaz, the pride of Zamboanga and the country, has finally won the gold after almost a century (97 years so wrote colleague Michelle Catap Lacson) of trying. Now, the Philippines is in the medal tally albeit on a modest rank, but it is now recognized due to the feat of this woman.

Such determination to win was evident on the face of Hidilyn on that fateful day: every muscle was in play, her veins in her neck bore the weight of the winning poundage of that barbell, which is 127 kilograms (kg)equivalent to, says my brother Perry, the weight of a motorcycle and more than two 50 kg. cavans of rice!

So many now are fussing over this winner when some years back, Hidilyn had to beg for financial support to sustain her training. Everyone is getting in the act, sharing in the limelight blitzed by her. Now, everybody wants to be with her. So much for pasipsip!

Even the Angeles City local government unit (LGU), I've read, gave an incentive of P200,000, courtesy of Mayor Carmelo "Pogi" Lazatin, Jr. Reportedly, Diaz had trained/lived briefly in Barangay Margot, hence, the acquaintanceship of the mayor with the weightlifter.

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Incisive columnist Alex Magno of the Philippine Star wrote about the ordeals of athletes, particularly, the weightlifter: Any athlete knows how painful it is to continue competing with blistered hands. Hidilyn's hands tell us how headstrong she is. She fought through the pain and outdid herself.

Then Magno adds: The blisters are not the only pain she endured in her storied career. Many times in the past, she felt abandoned and alone, since she had to please with our sports officials to get the financial support she was entitled to.

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The Philippine Sports Commission is the agency our Olympians go to for their allowances. Our national budget carries the stipends due our athletes. Now that Diaz has achieved the otherwise unattainable goal of getting a gold, the more must this sports commission and the officials thereof give what is due our athletes and more. They should get all the allowances due them without delay or red tape so that they need not beg as Diaz tried to do when faced with the lack of financial support.

Chess grandmaster Wesley So is the perfect example of our sports officials' neglect. He had to migrate to the US where he could get financial support. Look where he is now. He is on the top of the Chess world.


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