Student-Olympian: Hidilyn Diaz balances training and her studies

Naveen Ganglani
Student-Olympian: Hidilyn Diaz balances training and her studies
The silver medalist is taking up business at CSB while preparing for the 2020 Olympics

MANILA, Philippines – Months after winning silver in the women’s 53-kg weightlifting division of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and ending the Philippines’ 20-year Olympic medal drought, Hidilyn Diaz has decided to return to school by taking up business management at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde through a full scholarship program.

Sabi ko, hindi forever ang pagiging atleta. Kailangan ko magkaroon nang degree. So after Olympics, nag hingi ako nang tulong sa kakilala taga Zamboanga na saan ako makahanap nang school na open university,” Diaz shared during a press conference this week.

(I said, being an athlete isn’t forever. I need to earn a degree. So after the Olympics, I asked for help from someone I know in Zamboanga for somewhere I can study.)

The Zamboanga native continues to train as she plans on participating at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with aspirations of earning the gold medal next. 

The close proximity of Saint Benilde to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, where Diaz trains, helps as she balances her Olympic dreams and being back in school for the first time since 2010.

Diaz previously studied computer science at Unibersidad de Zamboanga for two years before taking time away to focus on her training sessions.

Malapit siya. Yung time ko, sa umaga, pwede ako makapag training,” said Diaz, who also shared that making the transition back to the classroom has its challenges.

(It’s near. With my time, I can train the mornings.)

Pag nakakita ako nang numbers, nahihilo ako. Alam ko paano mag solve pero nakalimutan ko na lahat,” she joked in front of members of the media.

(When I see numbers, I get confused. I know how to solve them but I’ve forgotten everything.)

At first, Diaz hoped to take up sports management but eventually decided on business instead. She’s been back in school since the fifth of January, with most of her classes taking place in the evening.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, Diaz has a class from 8 am until 9:30 am, and then more from 6 pm until 9 pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, her classes are from 4:20 pm until 7:30 pm. She is allowed to take leaves in case of a tournament or competition.

Diaz, whose degree is a 4-year program, hopes that what she learns can be applied to promoting weightlifting in the Philippines. Furthermore, she hopes it encourages other athletes to also take up their studies.

Sabi ko, pwede ko din ma-apply sa sports. Kasi gusto ko din palikihin ang weight lifting dito sa Pilipinas,” she said, and later added:

(I said that I can also apply what I learn in sports. Because I want weightlifting to be a bigger thing in the Philippines.)

Para saakin, mas marami akong matuto. Then, syempre, yung degree. Then mas marami akong ma-encourage na atleta na gusto lang maging atleta, pero sana tingnan din nila na sa school, madami rin silang makukuhang [learnings.]

(For me, I’ll learn a lot more. Then, of course, the degree. Then I can encourage athletes who just want to be athletes that they can learn a lot in school.)

Yung business, pwede ma apply sa life, pwede na apply sa sports, tapos management pa yun.”

(With business, it can also be applied in life, sports, and it also involves management.)

Diaz also confirmed that her former coach Antonio Agustin will be training her ahead of the Olympic Games 4 years from now. She plans on surpassing her previous lifting record as she remains committed to her goal.

Sa tingin ko kasi, itong ginagawa ko, pinagpatuloy ko to dahil gusto ko, dahil committed ako.”

(From how I see it, what I do, I continue it because I want to, because I’m committed.) –

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