HIDILYN DIAZ: ‘Curiosity brought me to the Olympics’
Carmen, Cebu — For Filipino Olympian Hidilyn Diaz, occasionally disrupting her training routine to attend programs that promote weightlifting to the youth inspires her to give her best in the profession that she chose to embrace.
This is why she readily accepted the invitation of Miss Cebu 2016 Gabrielle Raine Baljak to be the special guest for a sports and wellness event which had elementary schoolchildren from the small village of Luyang in Carmen town, northern Cebu, as part of the audience.
Along with other athletes from the Cebu Weightlifters Association and the National Weightlifting Team in Cebu, the 26-year-old Diaz encouraged children from Barangay Luyang to embrace the sport, which she said, “changed my life for the better.”
Asked why she chose to spend her Sunday in a barangay located about 44 kilometers from Cebu City, Diaz answered: “Because it is weightlifting and it involves children.”
“I sincerely believe that the children are the future. I started out like them … curious, interested,” she said.
The Rio Olympics weightlifting silver medalist said she was introduced to the sport by watching her cousins lift big and heavy pieces of wood in her hometown in Barangay Mampang in Zamboanga City.
“I was curious. Ano ba yang binubuhat nila? (What are they lifting?) From my curiosity, I learned weightlifting. Look at me now, I am an Olympic silver medalist,” she told an audience of more than 100 people composed of village children, parents, athletes and sports enthusiasts last October 22.
The fifth among six siblings, Diaz is used to household chores during her younger years. One of her tasks involved walking 50 meters a day to fetch buckets of water from a community water pump to their house.
Her father, Eduardo Sr., was a tricycle driver while her mother, Emelita, was a housewife. Her cousin Allen Jayfrus Diaz was her first coach.
Her mother was against her decision to embrace weightlifting as a sport. In their village, a female weightlifter is a rare find.
But Diaz said her mother saw how happy and fulfilled the sport made her feel and eventually gave her full parental support.
A famous saying goes that “curiosity killed the cat,” but in Diaz’s case, it was curiosity that brought her to the Olympics.
After graduating from Mampang Elementary School, Diaz received a varsity scholarship at the University of Zamboanga, where she finished her high school.
“In high school, I was doing trainings with my cousins. We were in school until five in the afternoon and then training from five to eight in the evening,” she recalled.
She described the training as “fun” and “full of joy.” She became part of the national team when she was 13 years old.
Diaz studied Computer Science in the same university but had to give up her academic endeavor in favor of the sport in 2010.
She focused on training in the next six years and attempted to bring home medals in two Olympics.
The third try proved to be a charm for Diaz. She came out victorious in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where she earned a silver medal in the 53-kilogram women’s category in weightlifting.
Her triumph also spelled the end of the Philippines’ 20-year Olympic medal drought since Filipino boxer Onyok Velasco won silver in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA.
Diaz also became the first female athlete to win a medal for the Philippines.
At the moment, Diaz is currently balancing her time being a student at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde taking up Business Management, and athlete. She is continuously training to achieve the gold medal dream in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The call time of the October 22 event was 7 a.m. Although she arrived late in Cebu the night before, Diaz arrived in the venue and followed call time rule with the discipline of an athlete worthy of emulation.
It is no wonder why she won an Olympic medal.
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