Lauded weightlifter and first Filipino Olympic Gold Medalist Hidilyn Diaz was honored Wednesday morning by her alma mater, the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), with The Benilde Medallion and an athletic scholarship program under her name.
Diaz, a scholar who currently pursues her Business Management degree under DLS-CSB’s School of Management and Information Technology, is the first recipient of The Benilde Medallion. This new distinction is the college’s highest expression of recognition and appreciation for individuals or institutions for their extraordinary achievements and contributions within and beyond the the country.
The gold-plated decoration was awarded by DLS-CSB President Br. Edmundo “Dodo” Fernandez FSC in an intimate ceremonial handover held at the college’s new Sports and Dormitory Complex. It features the image of the French patron saint and was inspired from the Benilde souvenir from Sauges, Haute-Loire, France, where Saint Benilde had his last assignment as School Director.
“The Benilde Medallion is a symbol of the Benildean identity of doing ordinary things extraordinarily well, a phrase which Pope Pius XI first attributed in 1928 to Saint Benilde Romançon,” Fernandez shared.
“You represent our commitment to ensure that more athletes get good education. We are bestowing The Benilde Medallion to Hidilyn Diaz to recognize her historic and trailblazing victory that brought so much honor and pride to Filipinos and Lasallians all over the world.”
The institution likewise paid tribute to Diaz by renaming its athletic scholarship program as the Benilde Hidilyn Diaz Scholarship for Athletes, which currently has 220 varsity scholar-athletes. Beginning next academic year, five national athletes will be offered this scholarship, for their entire college degree in Benilde. Diaz is a member of the screening committee for the applicants.
The college gifted Diaz with a collection news clippings from 20 volumes that encapsulated her remarkable and inspiring journey, with humble beginnings as a young athlete from Zamboanga to becoming one of the most lauded world-record-breaking Filipino Olympians of this generation. The anthology, named The Road to Excellence, was handed over by Taekwondo Olympian Stephen Fernandez, the Director of Benilde Center for Sports Development.
Diaz, expressed her utmost gratitude to DLS-CSB for launching a scholarship program for her fellow national athletes. “Hindi lang po kami atleta, kailangan din po naming mag-aral (We are not only athletes, we also need to study),” she reiterated.
Diaz specially thanked DLS-CSB for allowing her to continue her studies as a scholar despite filing a leave of absence in 2018 in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Mahirap maging estudyante at atleta pero naging posible kasi nasa Benilde ako. Naging extraordinary ang pagkapanalo ko sa Olympics dahil sa Benilde (It is challenging to be a student and an athlete at a same time but it became possible because I am with Benilde. My Olympic victory became extraordinary because of Benilde),” she added.
Diaz enrolled in DLS-CSB in 2017 after then-President Br. Dennis Magbanua FSC personally visited her at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex to offer her a scholarship. Fueled with yet another dream to earn a degree, the student-athlete religiously attended her classes until she filed a leave of absence in 2018 to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
En route to the historic gold, Diaz was stuck in Malaysia due to the travel restrictions brought by the looming coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Olympian took it as an opportunity to attend online classes, all while remotely training for the Olympics. Currently, she is three to four terms away from completing her degree.