Hidilyn Diaz: An Olympic medal hopeful

Mike Ochosa
Hidilyn Diaz: An Olympic medal hopeful
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz is hoping her third trip to the Olympics will be the charm as she gears up for Rio 2016

MANILA, Philippines – Sometimes, a person’s destiny is clearly laid out. Such is the case for Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Francisco Diaz.

At the age of 11, unlike other girls her age, Hidilyn already knew what she wanted to do. To be a weightlifter seemed to be the only option she had. At that age, Diaz was exposed to her cousins who were competing in their home province in Zamboanga. Her curiosity led her to take it up as well.

Mga pinsan ko weighlifter dati, nakita ko lang sila, nagbubuhat sila, actually hindi pa barbell, kahoy lang na parang ipil-ipil.(My cousins were weightlifters and I saw them lifting, in fact they were not lifting barbells, it was wood that looks like ipil-ipil.)

Ano kaya ginagawa nila, parang masaya ito, nacurious ako , doon ako nagstart…may summer games, ayun sumali ako.(What are they doing, it looks like fun, that’s how I started. We had summer games and I joined that.)

And from that time on she got hooked. Her natural ability to lift heavy weights did not escape the watchful eyes of the Philippine Weightlifting Association as she progressed to compete in Batang Pinoy and at the Mindanao Friendship Games in 2003. She became a member of the National team in 2004 through recommendation of her coach and mentor Antonio Agustin.

A reluctant competitor

Diaz first competed for the Philippines as a wild card entry in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics. She shared that she did not fully comprehend what the Olympics were all about then.

She was 17 years old and the youngest competitor at the 58-kg maximum weight. Nevertheless, Diaz lifted 85-kg in the snatch and 107-kg in the clean and jerk for a 192-kg total. This total broke her own Philippine record at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games.

It was here that everyone took notice of her potential. Diaz finally decided to make weightlifting a life commitment because she was not happy with her performance at the Beijing Olympics.

Medyo naging pangit performance ko noong 2008 kasi may goal kami ni coach Agustin, tapos hindi ko na-meet yung goal.” (I had a bad performance in 2008 because coach Agustin and I had a goal but I did not meet that goal.)

She then set out to prepare early for the next one.

A second chance

Together with her coach, Diaz set yearly goals as part of her preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.

Diaz then became the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in consecutive Olympics. This distinction earned her the opportunity to be the Philippine flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony.


Although she only found out that she was officially qualified 2 months prior, she successfully lifted a personal best of 97- kg in the snatch. Unfortunately however, she had 3 unsuccessful attempts at 118 -kg clean and jerk, thus posting an official “Did not finish” (DNF) on record.

Third time’s the charm?

Diaz will be competing in the Olympics for the third consecutive time.

Diaz claimed a spot for the 2016 Rio Olympics by winning 3 bronze medals for the clean and jerk and snatch events in the 53- kg division of the IWF World Weightlifting Championship late in 2015.

Diaz is now going into the Games with a more strategic approach. She has decided to compete at a much lower weight of 53-kg. Her performance in the IWF qualifiers, and after winning a gold medal at the first Southeast Asian Weightlifting championships, proved that if she can lift as heavy as she does at 53 kg, then that should put her in a fighting position in Rio.

Preparations for Rio

With just over 20 weeks to go before the Rio Olympics, the native of Zamboanga is already deep into training. Although she is still waiting for the official advice, she has already committed herself to do well in her third trip to the Summer Games.

Hidilyn shares a day in her life: “Sa umaga jogging 5:30 am gising na, jogging hangang 6:30 am. Tapos ensayo. TTH morning, heavy lifting. MWF, strength and conditioning. Pag hapon, may recovery and massage.(I jog in the morning. I wake up at 5:30 am and jog until 6:30 am. TTH mornings, heavy lifting. MWF strength and conditioning. In the afternoons, recovery and massage.)

She is pouring all her time into training.

She began this training regimen in January of 2016. Together with the training program, Diaz committed to a very strict nutrition plan.

Five months before the Olympics, she is focused on bulking up by increasing her protein intake and with a healthy portion of carbohydrates.

She now weighs 58 kg as she continues to focus on heavy lifting. She expects her food intake to change drastically as she tries to make weight at 53 kgs as August approaches.

Family, sacrifice, and dreams

Hidilyn is the fifth child in a brood of 6. Acknowledging that this may be her last Olympic run, she contemplates what will come after.

She longs for the opportunity to use her experience and success in the sport of weightlifting after she retires. She dreams of eventually making a living out of it as a coach and consultant. She is determined to give back to her family by helping them financially, given the sacrifice all of them had to endure for her to pursue her calling.

She believes going abroad will help her a lot but shares that she longs to stay in the country.

Siguro pagkatapos makakahanap ako ng trabaho sa ibang bansa dahil sa kaalaman ko sa weightlifting pero parang ayaw ko ring umalis kasi sino ang magtuturo sa mga bata dito?” (Maybe after all this, I can find a job abroad that is still related to weightlifting but I feel I do not want to leave the country because no one will be left to teach the youth about the sport.)

Diaz is concerned also about what will come next for Philippine weightlifting. She is fully aware that there needs to be a successor or someone to continue what she has begun. She shares her desire to help the country find that person.

Hidilyn Diaz is one of the few athletes who will be able to represent the country in the upcoming Rio Summer Games. Her sacrifice and dedication like so many of our athletes should not be taken for granted. She found her purpose early in life and has not regretted any of it. She promises to do everything she can to make the country proud and ensure that her sacrifices are not in vain. –

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