Character indeed is far more important than reputation. Unwavering commitment and dedication can move towards the path of destiny which is success. This is precisely the story of a true champion whose standard of excellence is her perseverance and steadfastness in what she does and whose choice may not be easy, but despite of all the stumbling blocks along the way, she made herself counted and stood out.
Hidilyn Diaz who is fondly called “Heidy” by family and friends was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She is the fifth child of a family of six by her parents Eduardo and Emelita Diaz on February 20, 1991. She was raised in Mampang, Zamboanga City. And as a child, just like an ordinary one, used to carry containers of water from the village to their home. That was when she started her weighlifting dream when she was yet 11 years old under the tutelage of her cousin Allen Jayfrus Diaz who taught her the basics of weightlifting.
She somehow managed to pursue a degree in college at Unibersidad de Zamboanga taking up Computer Science. However, Diaz ultimately decided to stop attending university but later determined to continue with a degree related to sports in Manila.
2008 | Summer Olympics
Diaz was selected as a wild card entry to the Summer Olympics by the Philippine Weightlifting Association in early 2008. She is the first female weightlifter to compete for the Philippines in the Olympics, and the second weightlifter overall. She placed second to last in a field of 12 weightlifters, her performance was praised and considered promising for her age. Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez once commented that she competed there to gain valuable experience and predicted that she would be a strong contender in future competitions.
Diaz became the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in consecutive Olympics, by qualifying in the women’s weightlifting under 58 kg through the Continental and World Qualifying Tournaments. She was ranked ninth in her event heading to the Olympics. During the 2012 London Olympics, Diaz was chosen to be the flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony.
Trying to improve her chances of landing a podium finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Diaz decided to drop weight from under 58 kg to under 53 kg. This proved to be effective as she recently snatched the Gold Medal in the 1st Southeast Asian Weightlifting Championship in Bangkok. She managed to lift a 98 kg snatch and a 115 kg clean and jerk for a 213 kg total. Diaz also earned three bronze medals for the clean, jerk and snatch events in the 53 kg division of the IWF World Weightlifting Championship held in Houston, Texas on November 22, 2015 to claim a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Diaz competed in the women’s 53kg weightlifting category with the intention of at least winning a bronze medal. Diaz surpassed her own personal target and won the silver medal at the event. This was the first medal for the Philippines in the Summer Olympics after 20 years. This was also the first non-boxing medal for the nation since 1936. Aside from being the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in three consecutive Olympics, she also became the first Filipino woman and first Mindanaoan to win an Olympic medal.
On August 8, 2016, she returned to her hometown, Zamboanga City and was welcomed as a Hero of the City. She also received numerous incentives from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Philippine Sports Commission and her local city.
Diaz was recruited into the Philippine Air Force (PAF) through the military arm’s Direct Enlistment Program in 2013. She was initially assigned to the Air Force Special Service Group. She was also given an Air Force Specialty
These are the glimpses of the journey of our hero and still counting. The best is yet to come! Mabuhay ka Hidilyn!
(Profile Source: Wikipedia, Photo courtesy by: Philippine Primer)