Weightlifting icon Hidilyn Diaz insisted that retirement isn’t part of her plans just yet following a historic gold medal win in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last July.
Diaz, the first Filipino athlete to capture gold in the quadrennial meet, responded to critics saying that she might as well retire from the sport on a high note.
“Opinyon nila yan at tanggap ko naman na ganun ang opinyon ng iba na winning the gold, gusto nila ako mag-retire but again, athlete po ako (That’s their opinion and I respect that. But then again, I’m an athlete),” said Diaz during the #UnderTheArmour webinar Saturday, Sept. 11.
“Hindi po ako ‘yong sumusuko dahil nanalo ako. Sumusuko ako depende sa kung kaya pa ba ng katawan ko, kung kaya ko pa ba magsakripisyo, kung kaya ko pa ba (I won’t quit just yet just because I won. I will quit once my body can no longer perform, if I can still do more sacrifices, and if I just can).”
Looking back at her Tokyo Olympic run, Diaz said one of the things she had to overcome is the overwhelming pressure especially with the high expectation set on her.
With a rich resume at hand, Diaz powered through the Tokyo Games with the help of the famed Team HD composed of Chinese mentor, Kaiwen Gao, strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad, sports nutritionist Jeaneth Aro.
While Gao, Naranjo, and Aro did most of the work on the physical aspect, it was through the effort of Trinidad where Diaz fortified her mental aspect of the game.
The Zamboanga native lifter recalled that dealing with pressure will always be a part of an athlete’s life.
“As an athlete, iniisip ng iba na malakas na yan, makapag-perform na yan, prepared na yan, or sometimes sinasabi lang sa amin na, ‘Gold ka ha, mananalo ka ha.’ Pero ‘di nila alam ‘pag every time na sinasabi [iyon], without knowing ‘yong journey namin, binibigyan niyo kami ng pressure na minsan parang ‘di ka na makatulog (Sometimes those remarks put a lot of pressure to us athletes to the point that we cannot sleep very well),” said Diaz, also a silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Games.
“‘Yon ‘yong mga dineal ko [with] as an athlete and siguro ganun din ang ibang atleta. Parang na-pressure kami tapos parang ‘di kami nakakapag-perform (That’s why I dealt with and perhaps the other athletes as well. If we’re pressured, then we can’t perform too well).”
Moving forward, although her formal training has yet to begin, Diaz has set sights on the 2021 Weightlifting World Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan which will kick off in December.