Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz will surely go down as one of the sports icons in Philippine history following her historic first gold medal for the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics.
The 30-year-old Diaz ruled the 55-kilogram women’s category in record setting fashion to win the gold medal – an improvement from her silver medal finish in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
It was 97 years in the making for the Philippines, or since the 1924 Paris Olympics when the country first joined the Summer Games.
While many Filipinos would highlight that winning moment in Japan, Diaz said she would also remember the journey she and her ‘Team HD’ went through from the time she started her qualification campaign to earn a spot for a fourth straight stint in the Games.
“For me, for ‘Team HD’ we’ll always look back sa mga pinagdaanan namin,” said Diaz. “Hindi naging madali, may mga doubts nung start ng journey, pero hindi kami nag-give up.”
“Of course hindi makakalimutan yung saya nung nanalo na, pero yung ginawa naming paghahanda ng ilang taon, hindi ko makakalimutan talaga. Tapos nanalo ako ng gold medal – ito ang naging bunga ng pagod, hirap at sakripisyo para sa bayan,” added Diaz.
The members of the Team HD are Chinese mentor Gao Kaiwen, strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, sports nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and psychologist Dr. Karen Trinindad.
Prior to the Tokyo Olympics, the journey of Team HD was featured in a four-part documentary series on the Facebook page of Kick-Start Coffee Brewed Awakening entitled “Let’s Go HD!”
The documentary series allowed the Zamboanga City native to do a “video diary” naturally done in a free flowing and heartfelt videos where it showed glimpse of the struggles, the highs and lows of being an elite athlete while she was in training camp in Malaysia.
“I hope to inspire a lot of Filipino people (with the documentary). That’s the purpose… malaman ng mga kapwa natin Pilipino kung ano yung naging journey ko and sana ma-inspire sila.”
Diaz set two Olympic records on her way to a victorious campaign in the Games – her successful lift at 127kgs on her third and last attempt at clean and jerk, and her total of 224kgs.
She bested China’s Liao Qiuyun, the world record holder who finished at 223kgs following her 97kgs in snatch and 126kgs in clean and jerk to earn a silver medal, while Kazakhstan’s Chinshanlo Zulfiya placed third for the bronze with a total of 213kgs – 90kgs in snatch and 123kgs in clean and jerk.