Silver medalist Diaz Paying it forward

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Silver medalist Diaz Paying it forward

OLYMPIC silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz has dreams of paying it forward.

And, she won’t be alone in her quest to develop the next generation of weightlifters, who want to follow her footsteps.

A power-generating company has come forward to provide varsity scholarships to her and a number of athletes working out at the small training gym inside their family residence at Bgy. Mampang in Zamboanga City.

The city government is also making sure that the 25-year-old Diaz will be able to acquire a 300-square meter lot next to her home so she can build a bigger training center.

“Masaya po ako. Hindi lang ito para sa akin. Para din ito sa mga bata,” said Diaz, a week after she bagged a silver medal in the 53kg division of the women’s weightlifting event in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

She came back to Manila with her coach Alfonsito Aldanete, teammate Nestor Colonia and Philippine Weightlifting Association vice president Bong Atilano to discuss with Alsons Power Group executives of their planned educational assistance on her behalf.

“She wants to pay it forward. She wants to train aspiring weightlifters. We would like to help Hidilyn,” said Alsons vice president and CEO Tirson Santillan Jr. in a presentation at their offices inside the Alphaland Southland Bldgs, in Pasong Tamo, Makati.

Santillan said they recognize the fact that many of the aspiring lifters may have trouble in terms of studies while training at the same time.

He said their presence in Zamboanga City as an independent electricity producer with an existing power plant and plans to build another one, makes them  part of the community.

Before Diaz and Colonia left for Rio, they have already extended help by providing a total of $3,500 in allowances to the two.

This time, company executives will discuss plans to give Diaz and the kids she trains scholarships.

To be called the Alson Power-Hidilyn Diaz Scholarship, it will cover tuition fees, school uniforms, equipment and allowances for Diaz and her students.

Santillan said they already have a scholarship program in Zamboanga City, but they are now modifying it with inputs from Diaz, Colonia, Aldanete, Atilano and other stakeholders in the sport.

Diaz earlier received a P5-million check from the Philippine government for her silver feat. Her lift ended the country’s 20-year medal drought on Day 3 of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

This earned her the country’s second silver medal after Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco last did it in boxing in 1996.

A total of P7.5 million is now in her hands, after President Duterte gave her an additional P2 million, and the Zamboanga City government added P500,000.

Atilano said he had approached the company for help before they went to Rio, and he got the idea of having Alsons as a sponsor after learning that the Thailand weightlifting team was also supported by a power-generating firm.

“With the result now, this idea will be solidified,” Atilano said.

Diaz currently trains at a small 10-square meter gym inside their family compound. 

But this will be expanded once plans to purchase a nearby lot is completed.