Lessons we should remember from the success of Hidilyn Diaz

Published August 11, 2021, 4:41 PM

by Noel Pabalate

And worth following in our own journey toward success

The Olympics is over. The hype of winning four medals for the Philippines is already waning. This episode, however, has etched itself into our history books, the year we finally took home the gold after 97 years of trying. That it was achieved by a female athlete, Hidilyn Diaz, in the male-dominated sport of weightlifting is an inspiring detail to add to this page.

Other things that made this historic win memorable are the gifts and cash rewards that amount to an eight-figures. But it’s not about the money. Hidilyn said that all the prizes came only as a bonus because she dreamed of something bigger, for something more valuable than any material—to bring honor to the Philippines.

Her victory lifted the spirit of the people in these challenging times. She serves as an inspiration to Filipinos, especially the youth, whom Hidilyn aims to influence the most. But what else can we learn from her Olympic journey?

Here are lessons from Hidilyn.

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz (AFP)

Dare to dream.

When Hidilyn was younger, she wanted to work in a bank to help her family make both ends meet. But her life took a turn when her cousin Allen Diaz introduced her to weightlifting. She was only 11 years old. The sport, which she used to practice using only homemade barbells, changed her dreams. On top of giving her family a good life, she started dreaming of bringing honor to her country. Dreams are the seeds we plant for the future. They are reality in waiting.


Follow One Course Until Success. When Hidilyn competed in her first Olympics at age 17, she had her sights on a goal: getting the gold for the Philippines. Her mind and heart were fixed on this objective, even if it took a lot of suffering and sacrifice. Hidilyn’s determination was so great she did not let personal matters interfere with her training. When we are focused, we do everything necessary to meet our target. From there, we get a clearer picture of how good our future could become.

Your level of success is determined by discipline and perseverance.

In one of Hidilyn’s Instagram posts, she shares her daily routine, which consists of eating, training, and resting. Strictly following her schedule and diet takes a substantial amount of discipline, the foundation of every athlete.

Her tenacity is also commendable. Even with the lockdown imposed in Malaysia last year due to COVID-19, and having no access to the gym, she trained with improvised equipment to get prepared.

The 2018 Asian Games gold medalist’s journey to the Tokyo Olympics was far from a smooth ride. She was second to the last in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, DNF (did-not-finish) in the 2012 London Olympics, and silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Coming up short in getting the gold in previous Olympic games did not stop her. Despite the lack of financial support, and even being red-tagged by the government, she did not quit. She rose above everything.

Hidilyn practices with an improvised barbell, made of bamboo sticks and gallons of water while on lockdown in Malaysia last year

Hard work forever pays.

Behind her two Olympic gold medals are years of backbreaking work. In fact, when she was just starting, she broke a barbell after practicing hard with it for a local weightlifting competition. Her wounded and calloused hands are proof of her diligence. She is a living testament to the philosophy, “No pain, no gain.”

Love will keep us alive.

As a female weightlifter, Hidilyn withstood insecurities and self-doubt. She was insecure about her body image. It took a knee injury in 2014 to make her realize that her toned muscles gave her strength to endure physical pain. From then on, she learned to love her body more—the way she loves weightlifting. Loving yourself is a must. And loving what you do even more is a manifestation of self-love, which plays an important role in reaching your dreams.

Team HD: With Hidily Diaz (center), strengthening and conditioning coach Julius Narnajo, sports nutritionist Jeaneth Aro, sports psychologist Karen Trinidad, and head coach Gao Kaiwen (Photo from Hidilyn Diaz Instagram)

Work with good people.

Even though weightlifting is a solo sport, Hidilyn worked with a team. Behind her success is a group of coaches namely Gao Kaiwen, Julius Narnajo, Jeaneth Aro, and Karen Trinidad.

As a cooperative athlete, she listens, trusts, and respects her coaches. These people genuinely look out for her, and push her to believe more and more in herself. Hidilyn admits that, without them, she wouldn’t have achieved what she has now.

In life, one needs to be a team player.

Laban para sa bayan (Fight for our country)!

Ever since Hidilyn joined the Olympics, she has made it clear that her fight is not for her alone. Beyond her aspiration to make Filipinos proud, she wanted to give honor to the Philippines. She believes in the power of patriotism to make things possible, big and small. for country and countrymen.

Be humble.

Hidilyn has left an indelible mark in history and yet she makes it clear she owes her victory to her team, to the people who supported her, and above all, to God. Accepting she was never alone in the battle and that she needs help to learn more is simply an authentic display of humility. This just shows that anyone can be at the top even with their feet planted firmly on the ground.

A devout Catholic, Hidlyn Diaz shows her gold medal and Our Lady’s Miraculous medallion

Stay true to your faith.

Hidilyn may have doubted herself, but she never doubted God. “Grabe si God!” she said repeatedly after she won the gold. Hidilyn credited her achievements to God and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Faith makes us perform miracles. Before the Summer Games, Hidilyn never tried lifting the 127kg barbel that won her the gold. More than her physical strength, what kept her strong was her faith. Days before the Olympics, she prayed a novena to Mother Mary. After winning, as she thanked God, she lifted up Our Lady’s Miraculous Medal in gratitude as well.

Among other things, Hidilyn proves that with faith, with God, nothing is impossible.