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choi baccarat(www.vng.app):Olympics: Inside the Malaysian \u2018kampong\u2019 house where Philippines\u2019 Hidilyn Diaz prepared for historic gold

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MELAKA — Hidilyn Diaz sat down for a meal with her kampong family in rural Malaysia. Before eating, she said a little prayer of thanks. The children looked at each other with surprise, and said “Bismillah” (in the name of God) – the Muslim equivalent.

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Their father – Mr Ahmad Janius Abdullah – was moved. He said Diaz, a devout Catholic, has been more than a guest in their house over the past year. She has also been an inspiration and a role model for his family and millions of Filipinos.

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The 30-year-old Diaz made history on July 26 when she won the Tokyo 2020 Games women’s 55kg weightlifting competition, becoming the first Filipino to capture an Olympic gold medal.

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The Zamboanga City native had trained in a house provided by Mr Janius in the sleepy town of Jasin in Melaka, around 150km south of Kuala Lumpur.

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During her almost year-long stay in the house, Diaz trained on a platform in the backyard that Janius prepared especially for her. She formed bonds with his family and younger children, dined on kampong food, fed fish at a nearby pond and encountered venomous snakes – a typical village existence.

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“She was an example to our kids over here,” Mr Janius, a weightlifting enthusiast who owns a gym in Kuala Lumpur, told the Post.

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“My kids learned from her. They saw her make a prayer before eating and even though we are brought up to perform this small ritual, we tend to forget. So my children remembered to do that because of her and that made me very happy.

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“We are simple people and we saw that Hidilyn needed a place to train so we offered her the house. And I’m very happy she accepted and also that she won the gold medal at the Olympics. She is an inspiration to many people here and in the Philippines.”

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Diaz, who won silver in the 53kg division at the 2016 Rio Olympics, decided to train in Malaysia early in 2020 because of the lack of facilities in the Philippines and the need to escape the attention of the local media.

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She initially used facilities provided by the Malaysia Sports Institute but was forced to halt training after the government imposed a countrywide lockdown because of the pandemic. Mr Janius helped her find a new gym in Kuala Lumpur but it proved unreliable given varying Covid-19 rules on whether facilities could remain open.

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Mr Janius finally suggested Diaz and her team of coaches and her nutritionist stay at his father-in-law’s house in Jasin, which at the time was unoccupied because the family was living in Bangi – a commuter town about 50km outside Kuala Lumpur.

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“We are very grateful to Malaysia for helping us during a difficult time for us when we did not know where to go,” Diaz told the Post.

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“They gave us a long-term visa, we had the house there and even though we are not Malaysians, they treated us like we belonged.

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“We were a family and I’m grateful to Mr Janius. I was under a lot of pressure before the Olympics but I just tried to stay calm and manage the pressure by enjoying the moments and being with the kids.”

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