Hidilyn Diaz’s path to becoming the country’s first Olympic gold medalist was something she had already envisioned 13 years ago in a television interview that has long been uploaded on YouTube.
Clips of an interview with veteran broadcaster Chino Trinidad on the GMA news program 24 Oras in 2008 showed a young Diaz preparing for her first-ever Olympic appearance at the Beijing Games.
“Ang Diyos po kasi pinapahiwatig niya sa akin na magiging athlete ako someday na dadalhin ko yung flag ng Pilipinas as weightlifting gold medalist sa Olympics,” Diaz told Trinidad.
She also described how the sport became an opportunity for her to get an education and give her family a better life.
Trinidad said in his report that Diaz used to carry buckets of water before being lured into weightlifting at the age of 11 owing to her “natural talent.”
“Ako nga din po di ko alam pero dahil sa mga pinsan ko kasi naglalaro sila ng weightlifing so parang na-curious ako na ‘Ano kaya ’to, i-try ko kaya ‘to’ so nasubukan ko,” she said.
“Tinutuloy ko na yung weightlifting kasi dahil sa scholarship sa school namin sa Unibersidad de Zamboanga,” added Diaz, who once took Computer Studies at the said institution.
Diaz was also seen being trained by Ramon Solis, who competed in the men’s middleweight category of the 1988 Games held in Seoul.
Solis was the last Filipino lifter to appear in the Games before Diaz gained a spot in Beijing as a wildcard entry and he was looking at Beijing as an initial step towards achieving a bigger goal in the 2012 London Olympics.
Diaz’s baptism of fire resulted in a 10th place finish out of 11 entries in the 58-kg class of the Beijing Games, but there were high hopes that the young lass would be a strong contender in future Olympics.
It took plenty of bumps and initial success before Diaz was on top of the podium as the first Filipino gold medalist.