ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 29 July) — Hardworking, focused, diligent and obedient.
This is how Elbert “Bong” Atilano, first mentor of Hidilyn Diaz, described the Zamboanga City-born woman who became the first Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal.
Atilano also called Diaz a person who leads a Christ-centered life.
Diaz bagged Monday the gold medal in the 55-kg women’s category of the event in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics by lifting a combined weight of 224 kg. Her last attempt, a 127-kg lift, also earned for her an Olympic record.
“She knows how to work in unity with a team,” said Atilano.
Atilano has helped many other athletes in weightlifting in the city even in their starting years by training and bringing them outside the country to compete.
Now a city councilor, Atilano has authored Ordinance No. 565 which provides for benefits and incentives for well-performing athletes.
The ordinance entitles Diaz and future Olympic Games winners from Zamboanga City P2.5 million each from the local government.
“Hearing the playing of the Philippine National Anthem at the Olympic Games is a dream fulfilled for every coach, and for every athlete. Hidilyn’s tears as she received her long dreamed of Olympic gold medal and while Lupang Hinirang was played was an expression of fulfillment,” Atilano said.
Winning an Olympic gold was a dream that started way back in 1985, when Atilano started designing a training program for Philippine weightlifters. Hidilyn was in the sixth batch, and the late Arturo Eustaquio, then president of Universidad de Zamboanga, was her prime benefactor then.
Diaz is set to receive P36 million more in cash (P10 million from the national government, P10 million from businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, P10 million from business tycoon Ramon S. Ang, P3 million from House Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero, and another P3 million from President Rodrigo Duterte.
She will also receive a P15-million condominium unit from Megaworld, a house and lot in Tagaytay City, and a house and lot in Zamboanga City from the president. (Frencie L. Carreon/MindaNews)