Simple AFP welcome for Hidilyn, for now

Hidilyn Diaz gestures after winning the gold medal in the women’s 55-kg weightlifting event, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.

TOKYO—There won’t be a ticker tape parade to welcome Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz when she returns home on Wednesday, not even a red carpet.

Because of prevailing health protocols, Diaz and eight others—including fellow weightlifter Elreen Ando—from Team Philippines who’re flying via Philippine Airlines are headed straight to a Pasay City hotel for a mandatory seven-day quarantine.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines—Diaz is enlisted with the Air Force—and not the Philippine Sports Commission or the Philippine Olympic Committee will be according her a simple welcome ceremony at the airport.

The pandemic protocols do not exempt anyone, even Diaz who two nights ago ended the nation’s almost a century-long quest for its first-ever Olympic gold medal.

But before leaving Tokyo, Diaz took time to give Ando, a potential heir apparent, a pat on the back on Tuesday. She even let the 22-year-old from Cebu wear her gold medal.

“I let her feel and wear my gold medal,” Diaz said. “I want Elreen to feel the Olympics—to aim high.”

An Olympic first-timer, Ando wound up seventh in the women’s 64-kg final on Tuesday night at the Tokyo International Forum, a finish that sets her up for a potential Olympic return in Paris 2023.

Ando lifted 100 in the snatch and 122 in the clean and jerk for a 222 total in the event dominated by Canada’s Maude Charron (236), Italy’s Giorgia Bordignon (232) and Chinese Taipei’s Chen Wen Huei (230).

Nesthy Petecio, meanwhile, won’t be the lone Filipino athlete competing in the Olympics on Wednesday.

Remedy Rule qualified for the semifinals of the women’s 200-meter butterfly to join Petecio, who goes for a medal round berth against Colombia’s Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda in a women’s featherweight in boxing.


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