MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:22 p.m.) — Olympic weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and fellow athletes who had ended their bid at the Tokyo Olympics have returned home.
The group, aboard a Philippine Airlines flight, touched down at Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Wednesday at around 6 p.m.
Diaz’ Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen and strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo were also on the flight.
Diaz who was wearing Team Philippines’ red polo upon arrival changed to her white Philippine Air Force uniform as she presented the gold medal to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
Lt. Gen. Allan Paredes, chief of the air force, then conferred Diaz her promotion from sergeant to staff sergeant at the NAIA VIP lounge.
Hidilyn Diaz receives her promotion from sergeant to staff sergeant of the Philippine Air Force upon her arrival at the Manila airport on July 28, 2021.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Diaz, who had planned a low-key homecoming, will be given a virtual hero’s welcome as the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medalist.
Diaz will also have a courtesy call with President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night.
At the meeting, the Philippine Sports Commission is expected to present her with a gold medal of valor as part of the Expanded Athletes Incentives Act. Along with it will be the P10 million cash incentive for an Olympic gold medal.
The athletes will afterward head to their mandatory seven-day quarantine in a hotel.
The rest of Team Philippines is still in the running for medals in Tokyo. Boxer Nesthy Petecio, for one, has secured at least a bronze medal for the Philippines with a chance of punching her way to a silver or gold.
This is the first time Filipino athletes are taking home more than one Olympic medal since 1932.
Monitor major updates as we follow developments in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
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Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles is replaced in the US team after starting Tuesday’s Olympic women’s team final.
The four-time gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Games produced a lacklustre opening vault and then briefly left the competition floor, before returning to join her teammates.
But the US team replaces her in the three concluding routines on the uneven bars, beam, and floor. — AFP
— FIG (@gymnastics) July 27, 2021
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The 23-year-old — one of the faces of the Tokyo Games — had not played since May, when she walked out of the French Open saying media commitments were harming her mental health. — AFP
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