For this first-ever Filipina to win an official Olympic medal, the sweet taste of triumph did not come easy.
It was actually a long, difficult journey—from personal crises to familial burdens, which even put her interest in the sport of weightlifting into question.
But that became the ultimate challenge for Hidilyn Diaz, the country’s toast in the Rio Olympics who bagged the silver, the lone medal of the country, in the women’s 53 kg category.
That is, overcoming these odds and still attain the treasured prize.
On MMK’s “Gold Medal” episode, we witness Hidilyn’s story for the first time and embrace her hardships and trials to further appreciate the glittering triumph she took home for the country.
Dedicated and loving
Hidilyn (Jane Oineza) is dedicated and loving, especially to her family she holds so dear, even as they face abject poverty. As a kid, she displayed her puzzling strength for a young girl lifting barbells boys twice her age could not even bring up. This led her to a passion for weightlifting, which she heralded in small provincial meets in Zamboanga City.
Time came when the country’s weightlifting coach Tony (Monsour del Rosario) paid a visit to one of these meets and saw how Hidilyn made mincemeat out of the competition. He offered her the chance to join the national team and asked permission from her parents Eduardo (Smokey Manaloto) and Emelita (Maricel Morales). While they showed hesitation at first, the parents allowed Hidilyn and even found a way for their daughter to travel to Manila to join the team.
And, as Hidilyn proved her worth, and winning some tournaments here and there, she had become the prime financial provider of the family, with the allowances provided to her by the government. However, she noticed that her family did not appreciate her efforts, including her boyfriend Gino (Dominic Roque) who would always take her non-stop training in Manila as an affront to their relationship.
As she stepped on the world stage of weightlifting competitions, Hidilyn had also experienced one heartbreak after another—getting shut out of contention in both the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the London Olympics in 2012. And through it all, not even an ounce of support from those close to her, including her coach Troy, who nonchalantly let her go when she expressed her frustration over the painful developments in her life. To top it all off, Gino broke up with her leaving her depressed and on the verge of giving up.
But after opening up to both Emelita and coach Troy, Hidilyn was finally assured of her worth as a person, as a daughter, and as an athlete. And even as she faced new ordeals, including the departure of coach Troy and some of her teammates, she now remained focus on improving her game.
Hidilyn was ecstatic finding out she was part of the Rio Olympics contingent that gave her the chance to fulfill her dream. And, during the competitions, Hidilyn cleared 112kg on the clean and jerk contest on the second try, assuring her of an Olympic medal. After an opponent from China failed to lift a higher weight, Hidilyn notched the silver behind the gold medalist from Chinese Taipei, who cleared the 112kg on her first attempt.
This left her entire family, who was watching the competitions live, in a frenzy, and celebrated her win with the entire nation longing for Olympic glory.
The episode, wonderfully directed by Dado Lomibao and written by Mary Rose Colindres and Arah Jell Badayos, was definitely a fitting tribute to our incredible Olympian who made the country proud by emerging victorious in the world’s most celebrated international sporting competition. Her silver was even the first in 20 years in a sport Filipinos have not been recognized until this year, thanks to Hidilyn.
Touched viewers hearts
It had good build-up and heart-wrenching dramatic elements that touched the hearts of viewers wanting to know more about our Olympic great. Jane Oineza delivered well in essaying a troubled lass seeking appreciation and support from those surrounding her, and finally getting the strength to overcome it all. Maricel Morales was likewise effective and so was Smokey Manaloto who did well in portraying her ill father doing it all for his children.
There were obvious loopholes in the story, but that didn’t seem to affect the impact of Hidilyn through the episode. What matters is that Hidilyn had amassed that kind of courage so difficult to muster just go beyond herself and achieve the impossible. And that’s downright inspiring.