MANILA, Philippines — While weightlifting star Hidilyn Diaz effortlessly snatched her first gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, little did everyone know that she already won an equally important battle before stepping into the podium.
Sporting shorter hair, blush on her cheeks, and lips painted with nude lipstick, there was something about Diaz’s vibrant smile every time she enters and exits the platform — Diaz knew, even without the medal, she was already a winner.
True enough, it was a difficult bout. Diaz’s opponent? Herself.
“We all have insecurities and I learned to overcome mine,” said a confident Diaz.
“All of us are going through something but I learned to appreciate myself and it led me to dreaming high.”
Last June, Diaz posted a video of herself on Instagram with her new look. The caption read, “Whatever my hairstyle/haircut it will not define who I am and who I have become.”
In an interview with Rappler, Diaz confirmed she was going through a difficult phase of her life at that time but it eventually led her to be grateful for the things she has now.
“I cut my hair because it was a rough season for me. I’m happy that I was able to survive it, I didn’t quit,” said Diaz, the first Filipina athlete to bag a medal in the Olympics.
After her golden SEA Games bid, the 28-year-old Diaz is on another quest to make the Philippines proud as she’s set to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
‘We are strong and beautiful’
After her historic SEA Games win, Diaz hopes her success in a male-dominated sport will also inspire other Filipinas to continue aspiring for greater heights.
“Who says we can’t be both beautiful and strong at the same time? Being a woman doesn’t mean people can limit us, our dreams. They can’t tell us, ‘you can only do this.’ We can always aim higher, we can do more with God’s grace,” shared Diaz.
The silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics also said that changing her perspective in life led her to feel contented and stay in excellent form.
“Be grateful in life, love yourself, and claim it — we are strong.” — Rappler.com