TO this day, Hidilyn Diaz is still on a high after her historic gold medal victory in the Tokyo Olympics, the first for the Philippines after 97 years.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Diaz as she talked about winning the gold medal recently after all the work she had to go through. “I thought it was impossible, but that moment I had the gold medal in my hand, it became a reality. This is what Team HD aimed for. This is our goal as a team.
“I’m so happy and thankful to God, to Team HD for making me strong, to my family and friends supporting me, to the private sponsors who believed in me and Team HD, and with the support of the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission), PAF (Philippine Air Force), and the SWP (Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas),” said Diaz.
The win was hailed all over the country, and with the landmark victory comes several engagements. Admittedly, Diaz has had a hectic schedule following her victory in Tokyo with several interviews and appearances. Diaz though makes sure that training remains a priority, and the good thing for her is that since weightlifting is already in her blood, the motivation to train is always there, even with her busy schedule outside the sport.
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“I only do three to four sessions a week after July 26. It’s quite hard for me because I had a hectic schedule after I won the gold in Olympics,” Diaz said. “I have a lot of engagements and sometimes I just have to insert my training in my schedule just for me to be happy and to feel fulfilled.”
“Weightlifting is part of me and it’s hard not to train. It’s hard mentally. I just want to go back to my regular routine before the Olympics, but that’s the price of winning the gold. I need to enjoy the moment and inspire other people,” said Diaz.
Fortunately, Diaz is willing to go through the hard training once again with the intention of reaping more honor for the country. With the Olympic gold medal comes added pressure for Diaz, especially on the mental aspect, which she is prepared to undergo once more when the rigorous preparations go in full swing for her next three competitions.
Diaz said she actually misses the rigors of training—both physically and mentally.
“I think by prioritizing myself, my family, and weightlifting, mental strength comes within me. I need to love myself first before I give my love to anyone. I wish I could have yoga sessions and sports psychology sessions again—just to feel like I’m back with my regular routine. Time will come, I just need to take this moment day by day and be thankful for all the blessings that God gave to me.”
During her build-up for the Olympics, Diaz recalled that she underwent six to eight training sessions a week, depending on the program during a certain period, and there would be times when she would have a ‘light,’ ‘medium,’ and ‘heavy’ weeks.
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Diaz trained every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday once a day, but will save a day—usually Thursdays—to focus on mental preparation with sports psychologist Karen Trinidad. Saturdays, Diaz said, were usually recovery periods where a meal plan set by nutritionist Jeaneth Aro was implemented.
The training wasn’t easy, but Diaz would always find ways to keep herself focused and motivated. One of her sources of strength was the #TheOnlyWayIsThrough campaign of Under Armour, one of Diaz’s supporters throughout the Olympic preparation.
“It resonates with me because I had to go through and learn from hard times to win the gold medal at the Olympics. I still kept training even though it got hard.”
July 26 was the culmination of all the effort she went through in the lead-up to Tokyo. She won the gold medal after lifting a total of 224 kilograms, which included her Olympic record of 127 kilograms in the clean and jerk. It was a wait that was long but nevertheless worth it as Diaz took home the gold after four tries in the world’s biggest sporting stage.
After the gold victory, Diaz said she also wants to inspire others who want to excel in their chosen sports. Her advice is simple to those who are also facing challenges: “The only way is through training, believing in yourself, and never giving up on your dreams.”
Now, Diaz is on her way back to training. And although there is uncertainty as to whether she will try for another Olympic gold win in Paris in 2024, the 30-year-old Diaz is determined to stay in top form for three upcoming competitions: the World Championship, the Southeast Asian Games, and the Asian Games.
“I need to go back to the basics,” said Diaz. “I need to focus on training and preparation for me to perform well whenever I compete. If I want a good result, I need to set aside everything and train.”