Good at lifting weights, Hidilyn Diaz was the logical choice to carry the national flag in the opening rites of the London Olympics.
The Philippine Olympic Committee yesterday awarded the flag-bearing chores to the hefty Diaz, a distinct privilege strongly desired by many athletes in the Olympiad.
Philippine chef de mission Manny Lopez said the 21-year-old Diaz, on her second trip to the Olympics after 2008 Beijing, deserves the honor and should not be burdened by the task during the two-hour kickoff ceremonies of the Summer Games on July 27.
“She’s a two-time Olympian and the task suits her. We know that she could easily carry the flag during the parade,” said Lopez.
The POC executive board picked Diaz, the world’s No. 9-ranked lifter in the women’s 58-kilogram category, over shooter Brian Rosario, swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi, judoka Tomohiko Hoshina and boxer Mark Anthony Barriga.
For the second straight Olympics, the POC installed a flag-bearer from Mindanao after Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao, the pride of General Santos City, was chosen to carry the national colors in the opener of the Beijing Games.
Diaz, who hails from Zamboanga City, will march ahead of the 32-man Philippine contingent, including 10 other Filipino Olympians, during the parade.
“We also considered Hidilyn’s schedule and the belief that there will be no strain on her,” said Lopez.
A silver medalist in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, Diaz is on her second week of participation in the pre-games training camp being held in the British capital. She will compete on July 30.
“She’s (Diaz) a good choice. Compared to the other athletes, Hidilyn has more time to recover since her event will be held three days after the opening ceremony,” said Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia.
Long jumper Marestella Torres, 5,000-meter bet Rene Herrera, Barriga, Rosario and swimmers Jessie Khing Lacuna and Alkhaldi are also in deep training at the pregames camp organized by the London Olympic Committee for Olympic Games (Locog).
Archers Rachel Cabral and Mark Javier, who joined Diaz in Beijing, are honing their skills in South Korea while BMX rider Daniel Caluag and Hoshina are working on reaching peak form in the Netherlands and Japan, respectively.