Eumir Marcial, Hidilyn Diaz continue quest for slots in Tokyo Olympics

Boxer Eumir Marcial and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz display the medals they recently won in international competitions during a courtesy call to the MVP Sports Foundation. MVP Sports Foundation

Two of the top athletes in the country, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and boxer Eumir Marcial, made a courtesy call with MVP Sports Foundation Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan to thank him for his continued support to their respective sports.

The two are coming off successful stints on the international stage and wanted to share their success with Pangilinan, whose support was crucial to their endeavors.

Diaz overcame a shaky start to pick up a couple of bronze medals in the 2019 World Weightlifting Championships held in Pattaya, Thailand in the women's -55kg category. As it was a gold level event, it boosted her chances to make a return trip to the Olympics.

"The help I get from MVP is so important because competing in the world stage is not cheap," said Diaz. "I have a core group that really supports me and makes sure that I'm at my top form and MVP made sure that these needs were also met to supplement the funding we get from the government."

Marcial, on the other end, won the Philippines' lone medal in the 2019 World Championships in Yekaterinburg, Russia. He became only the third Filipino silver medalist in the competitions after Roel Velasco in 1997 and Harry TaƱamor in 2007.

As an incentive, Pangilinan handed out 250,000 pesos for Diaz and 500,000 for Marcial through MVP Sports Foundation, with the help of PLDT, Smart, and Meralco.

Marcial said it was not his first time to receive an incentive from Pangilinan as he was also rewarded for his gold medal in the Youth and Junior World Boxing Championships back in 2011 when he was just 25 years old.

"It helped me a lot because I was able to pay for the repairs of my parents' house. We didn't even have electricity back then but I was able to provide that for my family and even start a small business for them," Marcial shared. "Now I have another chance to help my family and I can also set aside some of the money to buy gear and training equipment."

"The goal of the MVP Sports Foundation is really to invest in the search for the country's first Olympic gold medal," said MVP Sport Foundation President Al Panlilio. "Everyone knows we support basketball through the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas because that what Filipinos are passionate about but we're also doing what we can to aid other sports as well, especially those with weight divisions. As we've seen through Hidi and Eumir, Filipino athletes can be world class in weightlifting and boxing and hopefully they can give us our first Olympic gold medal next year."

Diaz will compete in three more tournaments including the SEA Games for a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics while Marcial will vie for his spot at the Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament in China this February.