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Friday, 24 August 2018 13:21

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

I met her briefly during the launching of the Alsons Power-Hidilyn Diaz Scholarship Program. That was June, last year, a year after she snatched the silver medal in the Rio Olympics.

Using a smartphone, she asked a friend to order “curacha”  for her lunch swimming in thick Alavar’s sauce. How “cholesterolic” can that be? She showed us her gym in Mampang where young weightlifters would train for competitions. While she fell short in winning the gold medal in Rio in the clean and jerk to a Chinese lass, she promised to do better in the Japan Olympics in 2020. Her lift of 115 kgs. in Jakarta raised hopes that she can have a better-than-silver finish.

Like Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Ms. Diaz endorses (Under Armor) brand famous for football equipment in the U.S. National Football League (NFL). That contract was inked immediately after she won the silver medal in Rio. Now, she stands to earn not only accolades and praises for her golden feat, but also a lot of money.

Zamboanga has a farm of weightlifters under the close supervision of the Zamboanga Weightlifting Association headed by Councilor Bong Atilano and under the titulage of veteran weightlifters and coaches. These athletes are guaranteed a scholarship by Alsons Power provided they maintain their academic grades.

Last year, Alsons Power signed a memorandum of agreement with Hidilyn and the Philippine Weightlifting Association, Inc. to launch the  “Alsons Power-Hidilyn Diaz Scholarship Program” for aspiring weightlifters. Alsons Power envisioned the scholarship program to support Hidilyn’s aspiration to train Zamboanga-based competitive weightlifters with the potential to become world champions who would bring honor to the country and serve as inspiration to other Filipino athletes.

In one of the exclusive interviews, the Olympic silver medalist said: “I am grateful for this (scholarship) program because it will encourage and motivate young people, many of whom have to stop schooling due to poverty and other difficulties in life. At the same time, those with potentials are forced to forget their aspirations of becoming world-class weightlifters.”

The Alsons-Diaz educational program is a special part of Alsons Power overall commitment to improving access to education for young people from Zamboanga city and other areas where the power company operates.

Alsons’ head of corporate communications Oscar Benedict Contreras said: “By helping ensure that our athletes are able to go to school without their families having to worry about the costs of school supplies, uniforms, shoes, meals and transportation, we feel that in our little way we are contributing to our country’s quest for an Olympic gold medal.”

Hidilyn will come home to Zamboanga and will be met by a throng of well-wishers and politicians seeking selfies with her. The last time we rolled out the red carpet for a local “winner” was in 1975 for Vic Solis for topping the bar examination.