Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz batted for the inclusion of weightlifting in the annual Palarong Pambansa.
The 31-year-old Diaz said she has been pushing for the inclusion of weightlifting in the roster of sports of Palarong Pambansa since she won the silver medal in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
She said Filipino athletes have a golden chance of emerging victorious in weightlifting so including it in the Palarong Pambansa will create awareness among elementary and secondary students.
“I got the gold in the Tokyo Olympics and I still wanted it. I have been giving back to weightlifting by spreading awareness and giving out barbells,” said Diaz, who was given weightlifting equipment by the Armed Forces of the Philippines over the weekend for her preparation for the Paris Games in 2024.
“For me, having the sport in Palarong Pambansa is a way of spreading it all over the country to realize that we have so much potential. We Filipinos are strong and let’s give the kids a chance.”
The Palarong Pambansa is the biggest gathering of student-athletes in the country but has been dormant due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has also been a hotbed of talent for coaches in the collegiate level to scout their next stars, especially in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the University of Athletic Association of the Philippines.
Diaz has also been pushing for weightlifting’s inclusion in the collegiate leagues.
In fact, both the NCAA and the UAAP are now considering adding the sport.
UAAP Season 85 president. Fr. Aldrin Suan, CM, however, said they have yet to discuss it as they need feedback from their member schools.
“There were a lot of proposals to add new sports. But here’s the limitation of the UAAP — there are events that don’t have all the schools. Some events only have six or five teams participating,” Suan, the athletic director of Adamson University, said.
“It’s an economic burden for the school to include a new event. It’s an additional expense — from scholarship to allowance, to food, to training, to salary ng coaches.”