Hidilyn Diaz: The Philippines’ Olympic Pride

Just recently, a Filipino woman brought pride to her country by earning a silver medal in weightlifting in the women’s 53 kg division during the 2016 Rio Olympics, the first medal in Summer Olympics for the country after 20 years. Diaz became the first ever Filipino woman to win an Olympic medal.

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Hidilyn Diaz is the fifth child to her parents, Eduardo and Emelita. She was introduced to weightlifting by her cousin, Allen Jayfrus Diaz. She went to the Universidad de Zamboanga, where she took up a course in computer science but stopped when she was in her 3rd year for she deemed it was not suitable for her and because it distracted her from her training.

In 2007, at the age of 16, Diaz was introduced to the former Philippine Sports Commission Chairman, Butch Ramirez. Although the Philippine Weightlifting Association was hesitant about recruiting Diaz because she was still very young, Ramirez found a great potential in her and was sent to China to train with all the other Filipino athletes.

In the 2008 Olympic Games, Diaz was the youngest competitor and was the 2nd Filipino weightlifter in the Olympics, and the 1st Filipino female to compete in that event. She was then 17 years old and competed in the 58-kg women’s division. Though she was the 11th out of 12 contenders, her performance gained praises and was seen as very promising considering her age.

Diaz also competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics and was recognized as the first female weightlifter from the Philippines to compete in consecutive Olympics. In the 2012 London Olympics, Diaz was the flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony. She contended under the coaching of Tony Agustin and beat her personal best in the snatch at 97 kg. However, she ended the competition with a DNF (Did Not Finish) result when she was unsuccessful after 3 attempts in her 118 kg Clean and Jerk.

In preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Diaz intentionally lost weight to compete in the 53 kg category,  knowing that she’ll have more chances of winning a medal. During the competition, she was able to surpass her personal target and eventually won the silver medal in the event.

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Upon her return to the Philippines, Diaz was given a Hero’s Welcome and received incentives from the PSC, her city, and from the President himself.

Thank you Hidilyn Diaz! Viva Pinay!

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