APART from its historic glory for the country, Hidilyn Diaz's Olympic gold medal has brought about a major turnaround in her life.
In the years before Tokyo 2020, she had to supplement her competition budget from social media fundraisers, no thanks to the lack of sponsorships and a dearth of government support.
But soon after her momentous achievement, clinching the Philippines' first-ever gold in the prestigious quadrennial meet last July, she soon found herself awash in sponsorships.
Her personal incentives also made it past P50 million mark.
The 30-year-old weightlifter is grateful for the overwhelming love she received. However, she hopes this could prompt a paradigm shift to the whole system altogether.
Hidilyn Diaz urges overhaul in how we support athletes
"Ang maipapayo ko sa lahat ng sports leaders, please invest in athletes hindi lang 'pag nanalo na sila, kundi sa preparasyon," she said in a virtual media conference organized by BDO. "Mag-invest sa atleta simula sa grassroots programs, at sa education nila kasi importante din 'yon."
Diaz is also putting in the work to uplift sports on her own. She is planning to open Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Academy to amp up the limelight on her sport.
After all, her own journey is a testament that Pinoys could thrive in the field.
"Gusto kong palawigin ang weightlifting. Itatayo ko ang Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Academy, para sa lahat ang sport na yan, walang pinipiling size, just love, hard work, dedication. Sa education naman, doon magkakaroon ng direction ang mga tao. Makakatulong 'to sa nation-building," she said.
Another way to nurture world-class athletes is to invest on their mental health. The Zamboanga-native bared that it was the holistic approach of Team HD that helped pave the way to her success.
"Hindi pwedeng ako lang mag-isa, kailangan ko ng kasama. 'Pag athlete ka, hindi lang physical and preparation, pati ibang aspects like mental," she shared. "Kung ako ang nag-perform, 'yung Team HD 'yung mind ng laro, sila nagpakondisyon sakin. Kailangan mo ng mga tao na kayang pantayan o higitan pa ang goal mo."
She added: "'Wag i-pressure na 'Ikaw, gold ka ha, gold ka dapat,' kundi dapat kamustahin. Nag-ma-matter sa amin 'pag kinakamusta. More than the competition, mas important ang preparation. Do more long-term programs for athletes."
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