MANILA – Olympian Hidilyn Diaz, also a Philippine Air Force (PAF) sergeant, gets promoted to the next rank following her historic gold medal win for weightlifting in the Tokyo Games.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana has lauded the initiative of the PAF to promote Diaz to the rank of staff sergeant effective July 27.
Sobejana said the promotion seeks to distinguish the Filipina’s achievement in the field of sports and for bringing pride and glory to the country.
Diaz’s Olympic gold is the country’s first after almost a century since joining the Olympiad.
“Congratulations, Staff Sgt. Diaz. The AFP is proud of your accomplishments and may you continue to serve as an inspiration to your fellow service members,” Sobejana said.
Diaz, who hails from Zamboanga, entered the PAF as an active personnel in 2013.
She also brought home the silver medal in the Rio Olympics 2016; gold medal at the Asian Games in 2018; and, the gold medal during the Southeast Asian Games in 2019.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history Monday, July 26 becoming the first athlete from the Philippines to win gold at the Olympics.
The 30-year-old set an Olympic record, lifting a combined weight of 224 kilograms, to clinch the top spot in the women’s 55-kg class in Tokyo.
Diaz burst into tears and embraced her coaches after completing the record-breaking lift. She was seen clutching her medal and pointing to the Philippines flag on her jersey while stood on the podium.
Philippines Presidential spokesperson, Harry Roque, congratulated Diaz for “bringing pride and glory” to the island nation in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday. “The entire Filipino nation is proud of you,” he said.
Prior to Diaz’s gold, the South East Asian nation of roughly 108 million had claimed just 10 Olympic medals — 3 silvers and 7 bronzes.
Diaz, who won silver at the 2016 Games in Rio, achieved a personal best to beat off strong competition from world record holder Liao Qiuyun of China, who took silver with 223 kg, and Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo, who won bronze with 213 kg.
Diaz is among a number of athletes whose preparation and training ahead of the Games were disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions.
At one point, Diaz became stranded for several months in Malaysia, while en route to a competition in Peru, following the introduction of stringent government border restrictions, Reuters reported.
In a video posted to Instagram during her time in lockdown, Diaz has seen training with water bottles attached to a wooden stick.
“Yes, I do this. I carry a bottle of water for my weightlifting training. It’s hard but we survive, still living the dream in my heart,” the caption read.