Hidilyn Diaz appeared on the July 29 telecast of 24 Oras.
You know what?
Atom Araullo had the right questions.
Rather than ask if she's a nervous wreck during the ordeal or how proud is her kababayans or how she'll spend her winnings, Atom asked about her game plan. Perhaps his investigative journalism background played a part. The fact that he used a nickname to make her comfortable can also be a factor. Or simply check out the best questions to ask did him pretty.
Maybe it’s his boyish looks?
I never thought there was a chess match involved between the coaches.
Hearing her words, now I get why the China weightlifting coach got angry at Hidilyn's Chinese weightlifting coach.
With the weightlifters acting as virtual chess pieces, the Philippine contingent strategized on how they should attack China’s strategies. After all, the Chinese were the juggernauts of the competition. Before Diaz's win, they were 4-of-4 in the events with men's 73kg Shi Zhiyong finishing with a world record of 364kg.
364kg is 800 pounds!!!
It's important for the group to check out how China would execute its strategies.
I stumbled on a YouTube channel called Weightlifting House. The channel has a comprehensive report on how the Women’s 55kg match in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics turned out.
It’s a good watch – especially if you want to check out the strategies.
So lemme understand the situation according to what Weightlifting House described.
When everyone else was exerting effort for their three snatch attempts, Hidilyn hid from the shadows.
The host called this a “lockout”.
It's shady but it’s also a good strategy to use – especially if you want to survey the competition before targeting the players you need to strike down. With the move, you can also check out which lifters are contenders and which are just there to participate. There are some weightlifters who finish their snatch attempts as fast as possible to have an extensive time to rest for the clean and jerk.
The Chinese weightlifter, Liao Qiuyun, came out from backstage early with a successful 92kg try, and at that point, she had the highest made attempt.
And at this point, Hidilyn was focused on the Chinese.
As I said, hiding and scheming is something I didn’t know that existed in weightlifting. It’s legal though. You can scatter your attempts or you can batch them into one barrage of hits to rest for the next round. I repeated this fact because I really like the "thinking" part. It's like the coaches are playing weightlifter poker as they call and bluff their hands. Diaz used the move to lock on Liao.
Liao Quiyun is a weightlifting wunderkind. She has won a bunch of tourneys and at 26, she has dibs on a lot of gold medals if she continues to develop.
As Weightlifting House explains, she has this awkward stance when she is setting up the pull but when she hits it, it’s almost flawless.
Anyway, the other player who has yet to attempt, Uzbekistan's Muattar Nabieva, came out to one-up Diaz's attempt with 95kg. Liao would then return to the stage and even Nabieva’s attempt. Diaz would also return to the stage to nail 97kg which was then matched by Liao on her third attempt.
So at this point, it’s evident that Diaz and Liao are feeling each other out with Zulfiya Chinshanlo and Nabieva acting as spoilers.
Chinshanlo won the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics. However, she was disqualified because of banned substances. From 2009 to 2014, the Kazakh scored gold medal finishes at the World Championships. At 28, this is probably her best time to score an Olympic medal.
Anyway, Diaz tried to upstage Nabieva’s Olympic record when she nailed 98kg with a 99kg attempt but failed to clear the move.
With both Liao and Diaz finishing with equal scores in the snatch (since both had 95kg), all eyes were then fixed on the clean and jerk.
Alongside Chinshanlo, the two hid from the spotlight as the rest of the field finished up their three attempts. When Liao came out first, Nabieva topped everyone with an overall score of 212kg. Nabieva may have had 98kg on the snatch, she failed to impress with 114kg in the clean and jerk.
Liao's first attempt was 118kg and then Diaz quickly came next with 119kg.
Backstage, Chinshanlo, who scored a mere 90 on the snatch, wanted to "snatch" a medal spot from Nabieva by going with 123kg in the clean and jerk. She failed on her first try but it was evident that she was going medal hunting.
Liao would then return to the stage and nail 123kg but before Hidilyn could answer, Chinshanlo came back with another 123kg attempt, and this time, she cleared the try.
The move gave the Kazakh a sure medal spot.
It was evident that Chinshanlo would settle for a bronze finish though. Diaz would return to the stage and deliver a 124kg bounceback to give her back the lead.
And with both women having an attempt left, Liao went first and went three kilograms heavier and successfully cleared 126kg.
And then, we all know what happened next.
I wanted to know the name of the guy in Weightlifting House because he did awesome in his play-by-play analysis. He could have ended the blog with a bit more drama as this is the first-ever gold medal of the Philippines but the way he presented the play-by-play is enough. Sadly, if you did not see the match live, you are not going to see it at all.
I understood the psyche behind the strategy of Hidilyn Diaz’s team and why the Chinese coach got mad at Hidilyn’s coach. However, the Chinese coach messed up as well. Throughout the match, Liao was testing Hidilyn by coming out first. Of course, Hidilyn is just going to answer whatever moves she made.
It’s a chicken and egg standpoint. You either go first to pressure the opponent or you go last to survey the competition. Obviously, China thought highly of Liao’s skills and thought little of Diaz's counter. Liao is the only weightlifter to successfully attempt all of her six tries and nailing 126kg under the bright lights is just insane.
With that said, coaches can do so much. The Chinese coach sent Liao to a 126kg purgatory while the Philippine coach sent Diaz to just do what they betted on. In the end, Diaz prevailed against a very tough opponent. The weightlifter will always have the final say on whether or not she could win it.
Hearing Hidilyn explain the situation to Atom is just awesome and I am going to try to get a hold of a copy of the entire match.
Looking at Liao in the podium with sadness made me think that she knows she should have added a few kilograms more. If you check out her Wiki page, this is her first silver medal from a major event since 2017.
EVERY TIME LIAO PARTICIPATES IN AN INTERNATIONAL TIFF, SHE ALWAYS WINS A GOLD MEDAL!
And in two of her wins, she hit 128kg (2019 Asian Championships) and 129kg (2019 World Championships).
Meanwhile, the heaviest Diaz has ever lifted prior to the 127kg pull is when she hit 121kg in the 2019 World Championships.
Diaz’s previous Olympic record was 112kg.
China forced Diaz to unearth the 127kg that also became the Olympic record. Diaz’s combined score of 224kg is also an Olympic record.
So yeah… of course, Liao must be really pissed.
So with a great strategy of the Philippine team and the killer instinct of Hidilyn Diaz, the Philippines finally broke out of gold medal hell.
The breaks of the game are finally on us.
And this is a story that’s going to become awesome in the years to come.