September 23, 2019
“I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan.
This is the story behind Hidilyn Diaz’s success. We failed so many times. Weightlifting World Championships, Asian Championships, two Olympics, etc. We joined all international tournaments all over for many years while she’s growing up. Then in the end of 2015 in Phuket, she won the Gold Medal in the Asian Weightlifting Championships together with our other Olympian Nestor Colonia.
Asia, in particular China, has always been the powerhouse in this sport, and we beat the odds. I knew then we were on our way to the Río Olympics. And I told President Digong in the Palace before we left for the Games that if ever there would be any medal coming for us, it would be the under-rated weightlifting. He probably didn’t believe me either. But this time I knew something was gonna happen. And I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world. The Philippine delegation, organized by the POC, didn’t invite me to join the group, so I spent my own money going to Brazil praying that Hidi and Nestor might just give this beautiful country two medals to lift up our people’s spirit. We never had an Olympic medal in 20 LONG years. And we were going to change all that.
Weightlifting? What’s that? Nobody heard of us before. Even if I was Chairman of the Philippine Olympic Committee for several years, I didn’t make too much noise then … until we showed them how. And probably, only then can we demand for the proper and deserving support from everyone.
Easy? It took Hidi sixteen years to realize her dream. No shortcuts. Sweat and tears. That’s what it takes to be an Olympian and a silver medalist. But wait. I have to thank all those who believed in us during those dark years. From the private sector, only MVP Sports Foundation helped us and when we won in that memorable night in Río, the first to call me at midnight was MVP himself and Al Panlilio, expressing more support again when we came home. PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez and former Chairman Ritchie Garcia couldn’t believe it and also called me before the medal ceremony. Even former POC President Peping Cojuangco, who was right in ringside of the stage when Hidi lifted her last barbell got stunned with all the sudden shouting and hugging among us International Weightlifting Federation officials. They couldn’t believe it. I was also a former member of the IWF Board even if we didn’t win any medals all those frustrating years and they knew this was the moment. They were all so happy for us. They knew what we had gone through. First time after all these 16 years for me and we thanked God it happened.
You may not know this, but I also expected our weightlifter Nestor Colonia to win another medal for us. One hour after Hidilyn shook our nation, it was Nestor’s turn and I truly believe pressure caught up with him that night, after hearing all the commotion that erupted after Hidilyn’s medal ceremony. Why? Because few months before the Olympics, he was able to beat the guy that took the Bronze medal that night. Not once, but twice. The pressure of competing in the Olympics is the ultimate challenge. This is why our country’s sports program must hire sports psychologists of the highest degree, if only for the international arena. This is a necessity.
Hidi faced the whole world again here, together with our national nine other lifters, in the IWF World Cup in Pattaya, Thailand. She’s been through a lot again to be here. Training for months in China and Taiwan with her personal coach. She started the road in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan last year and where she learned she had to be back on track again, if only to defend her status in the Tokyo Olympics mid next year. I’m just happy it’s all on Fox Sports TV live now for our motherland, especially the kids, to see the struggle and help promote this sport that can prayerfully give us our first and elusive Olympic Gold medal. Calling Sec. Briones of the DepEd. First step would be the Palarong Pambansa. How about it?
Oldies never die, they just fade away
Don’t underestimate the old guys. Thirty-nine-year-old Luis Scola of Argentina and 34 year old Marc Gasol of Spain led the finals for their respective countries. They beat the best in the world and both made it to the Mythical five. Don’t ever ask them about their ages. Paging Jason Castro. Who said you’re getting too old for this game. Secret weapon? DISCIPLINE and LOVE OF COUNTRY. Now that he has aged, Scola even made it to the Mythical Five for the first time. It’s all mind over matter guys. You can also see that in tennis these days. Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, they’re still lording it over the younger wannabes. And what about Woods? And don’t forget my kumpadre Pacquiao.
Serbian coach Sasha Djordjevic resigned after Serbia made fifth place. A favorite to win in this year’s World Cup, this teaches him to be more humble after insulting Gilas and the USA five. Watch your mouth Coach. You’ll eat your words.
A European coach? I thought the finals were all Latinos. Spain and Argentina. Why? Cause these two countries have been playing each other for years together with other Latin countries. They have constant competition while we have a few internationally. We’re living and playing in a cocoon. That’s why no Asian country made it. We’re getting left behind guys.
Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella is a former Philippine Sports Commission commissioner and Philippine Olympic Committee chairman
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