No stranger to starting from zero, Hidilyn extols value of setting high goals and doing everything to accomplish them

Dressed in dazzling gold, Hidilyn Diaz was presented with the Athlete of the Year trophy by PSA president and Tempo sports editor Rey Lachica.  —CONTRIBUTEDPHOTO / ANDY SANTOS

Dressed in dazzling gold, Hidilyn Diaz was awarded the title of Athlete of the Year by PSA president and sports editor Rey Lachica. —CONTRIBUTEDPHOTO / ANDY SANTOS

It was the biggest year for sport and an even bigger year for the national weightlifting federation — and it all started on the bus ride back to the hotel during the 2012 London Olympics.

There, Hidilyn Diaz plopped down on a chair, looking “broken and embarrassed,” said Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) head.

Diaz was unable to complete her lift, a DNF (no finish) against her name on the scorecards put an end to her second Olympics.

On Monday night, she had another DNF: No failure.

“This just means nothing is impossible and we Filipinos can do it [great things]” Diaz spoke in Filipino after received the Athlete of the Year trophy from the Philippine Sports Writers Association (PSA) at Diamond Hotel.

Diaz recalls that in the past, she only dreamed of stepping up the ladder of the country’s biggest sporting awards while watching athletes like M mostella Torres receive the glory from the PSA.

“I used to watch these proceedings and dream of attending,” she said, tears streaming down her face.

Diaz was the track athlete of the year, and she talks about rising from adversity and conquering barriers — tasks with which she is very familiar.

Work for

Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines stands on the podium during the victory ceremony in the women's 55kg weightlifting event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021.

Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines stands on the podium during the victory ceremony in the women’s 55kg weightlifting event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Vincenzo. PINTO / AFP)

In 2012 in London, SWP president, Monico Puentevella, felt that the then 21-year-old weightlifter had been fulfilled, her dream had been crushed by the weight everyone expected — not to mention. to what she actually had to lift in the competition.

“She was really down and for a moment, I thought this time, she was going to give up. She was very embarrassed by her performance in her second Olympics,” said Puentevella.

“Then she returned with a vengeance.”

Thirteen years later, Diaz, resplendent in a gold gown matching the colors of her victory at the Tokyo Olympics, accepts the trophy associated with her in Philippine sports lore.

Diaz becomes the first Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal to mark a magical year of home sports. Vanessa Sarno also became the Asian champion in middle school and senior class after dominating her weight division in the continental tournament in Uzbekistan last year.

It has been an even greater year for the sport, which has received numerous accolades.

In addition to Diaz’s Athlete of the Year, Sarno and Olympian Elreen Ann Ando received citations from the PSA. SWP shared the National Sports Association trophy of the year with the boxing federation. Diaz also won female athlete of the year in the Inquirer Sports Awards, the award also named Sarno as young athlete of the year, and weightlifting mentors Gao Kaiwen and Julius Naranjo as their coaches. five.

Puentevella is also tied with the President of the Philippine Olympic Committee, Congressman Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino for the position of sports official of the year.

Low level not recorded yet

However, Diaz remains the crown jewel of the sport.

And she achieved that status after breaking through previously uncharted lows and aiming for the highest of highs: An Olympic gold.

“Sabi nila dati ang taas ko mangarap — bakit hindi? (People often say I dream too high – why not?),” she said defiantly in her tone, before adding in Filipino: “It doesn’t cost anything to dream. ”

Diaz approaches in Rio de Janeiro. She ended a 20-year medal drought for the country with a silver medal in 2016. But her poor performance at the Asian Championships has raised questions about whether she will reach it. peak performance or not.

“I simply advised her to make up her mind. If she wants to settle down, I will bless her,” said Puentevella. “But if she still wanted to chase that elusive gold, I told her to go back to the gym and work hard for it.”

Indeed, Diaz gazes upon every challenge that comes her way: She’s locked up in Malaysia and had to practice with her team there. Separated from her family, she worries constantly about them during the pandemic.

“I don’t think we can go on without challenges in life; that’s where we draw the power to succeed,” says Diaz.

And her success has fueled a sport into mainstream consciousness, where kids as young as 8 are starting their own journey to become the next Diaz.

And ultimately, Diaz hopes to become an inspiration to younger athletes, in weightlifting or otherwise, toward Olympic glory.

“We can do this,” she encouraged. “And I believe many more Filipinos will win gold medals at the Olympics.”

“Laban, atletang Pilipino. Laban, Pilipinas. (Fighting, Filipino athlete. Fighting, Philippines)

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