Hidilyn Diaz took pride with her weightlifting sport, thanking the crowd, and then giving a snappy salute to the Sun and Stars while the “Lupang Hinirang” was being played at the awarding ceremonies of her event in the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Monday. 

Usually overlooked and taken for granted, the Philippines should finally give its salute to one of the prides of the Filipino athletes as well. 

Diaz got its first gold medal in the games after ruling the women’s 55-kilogram event at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

In the presence of cheering hometown crowd, the Philippines’ heroine in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and in 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia has raised the country once more in the overall standings of the Philippines after successfully lifting a total of 211 kg in the said event. 

“This is a huge deal for me because my parents are here, and the nation watched me and now they know how intense weightlifting is,” Diaz said. “Hopefully they (fans) were able to appreciate the sport,” Diaz said. 

“This year has been so good to me and I’ve made large progress in terms of training and technique.” Diaz said. 

“We’re on the right track for Tokyo 2020,” said Diaz, who now eyes for the championship in the Olympics in Tokyo next year. 

As of Monday 8 p.m., the Philippines has powerful 38-21-13 (gold-silver-bronze) tally in the overall race, surpassing Vietnam, which has 15-20-16, and Malaysia with 11-2-6. 

The Filipinos only bagged 23 gold medals SEA Games 2017 to finish sixth place in Kuala Lumpur. 

Filipino athletes grow 

Besides Diaz, the Gilas Women 3×3 team surprised many after defeating Thailand, 17-13, which gave the Philippines its first gold in women’s basketball. 

Then, Gilas Men juggled Indonesia, 21-9, completing a sweep for the country. 

Meanwhile, Arnis gave seven gold medals in Day 2, with Elmer Manlapaz leading the padded stick division for the men, who also won three divisions. The women got four gold medals at Angeles University Foundation. 

The team now ended the competition with 14 gold medals, beating Dancesport as the most prolific contributor to the Philippine effort. The latter won 10 golds on Sunday, December 1. 

Moreover, men and women competing in Triathlon events at Subic Boardwalk ruled the mixed relay field with their third gold for the country. Members finished with one hour, 33 minutes and 47 seconds, beating Singapore’s 1:37:58. 

As Day 3 is about to be wrapped up, bagging gold medals won’t slow down as the legendary Efren “Bata” Reyes will conserve the Philippine stand in billiards. 

Fencing, Ice Skating, and Swimming competitions are not the country’s “usual” sports, but members of these teams are also winning. 

Meanwhile, a Pinoy pride from Iloilo Edmar Tacuel, who won a gold medal in Pencak Silat Men’s Seni Tunggal Singles event, admitted that his victory was his ticket out of poverty, noting he’s the sixth son of seven children of a farmer father. 

“All the hard work paid off. This is the happiest day of my life. Thank you to all the people who supported me,” Tacuel said in Filipino. 

Each Filipino gold medalist will receive a grand P600,000 — P300,000 coming from the Philippine Sports Commission and the other P300,000 from the Philippine Olympic Committee. 

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