A female Catholic weightlifter from the Philippines says she has the Virgin Mary to thank after winning the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games in Japan.
Hidilyn Diaz bagged gold on July 26 after lifting a combined weight of 224 kilograms in the women’s 55kg category.
Diaz was seen wearing the Miraculous Medal, a devotional medal designed by St. Catherine Laboure after she claimed to see apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Paris, France, in 1830.
During the medal ceremony, Diaz raised one hand while clutching the devotional medal on her chest.
She later said she and her friends had prayed the novena to the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal for her success.
“It was given by a friend. They prayed the novena before I competed. I too, I also prayed the novena to the Miraculous Medal,” Diaz told reporters.
Your success gives light, inspiration and hope to all of us, especially in these difficult times
“It’s [the win] a sign of our prayers to and faith in Mama Mary and to Jesus Christ.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued a statement expressing its “pride and joy” at Diaz’ inspirational win.
“I extend my utmost gratitude to Hidilyn for bringing honor to our country with her determined spirit and undying passion for what she does,” conference president Archbishop Romulo Valles said.
Archbishop Valles said Diaz’ win was also a victory of faith in Christ and the Blessed Mother.
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“She was captured in a photo holding the gold medal and wearing a Miraculous Medal on her chest. We admire her devotion to the Blessed Mother as she carried in her victory her great gift from God,” he added.
The prelate described Diaz as a “true weightlifter” who did not only carry the weight of the competition but the love of God and her country.
Manila archbishop Cardinal Jose Advincula said Diaz has given inspiration to all Filipinos with her win.
“Thank you, Hidilyn, for the tremendous honor you have bestowed on our country. Your success gives light, inspiration and hope to all of us, especially in these difficult times,” he said in an interview with church-run Radio Veritas.
“Thank you for reminding us that there is no real success if it does not come from God.”
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