25-Year old Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz says “Weightlifting is my life, it is what defines me.” Hailing from Zamboanga city, she started weightlifting at the age of 11 years old and has been on the National Team since 2004. In this year’s Rio Olympics, equipped with her dedicated training and her strong faith, she surpassed even her own expectations and ended the Philippines’ 20-year Olympic medal drought. We speak to Hidilyn about her experience in Brazil, her training, and what it was like bringing pride to the Philippines.
What was going through your mind when you won the silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics?
I was thinking how God is so good. I was just expecting to win bronze but He gave me the silver medal. Its unbelievable!
Are you still planning on competing in the future?
Yes, I want to compete in the future.
How was your overall experience in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?
It was great! I had some great moments with my fellow Olympians and officials there. For me, Brazil is special because all of my co-Olympians are my friends and we would always talk and laugh together. And of course, it is special because I won the silver medal there. I won't forget that moment.
How do you think the country can better support our national athletes?
Support them by manpower. We need specialists in sports medicine and clinics. Sports itself can't go further anymore as is, we need to innovate and be open to new things.
What do you eat when you are training? What's your diet like?
Ohhh! Actually my food was delivered by Ichef concept, they were able to help me get to my weight but at the same time my strength was still there. Food mostly high in protein. More on white eggs and spinach.
Being a part of the Philippine Airforce, you must be very disciplined. How did that help you train for the Olympics?
Being in the Airforce I learned how to love the Philippines, I became patriotic and I learned to follow orders and complain later. Haha!
What's next for you now that the Olympics are over?
I don't know yet what is next for me, but I want to build the gym in Mampang weightlifting club, help my brother to have a business so that they will have a passive income, travel with my parents, study and train.
Any advice to the young people out there who were inspired by your performance in the Rio Olympics?
Dream high! Soar high! It's what gives you meaning and purpose in life. Do your best, work hard for it, and never ever give up. It's just part of life to have trials and challenges. And praise God when you reach your goal.
Who or what inspires you?
God inspires me to go on because I know God put this dream into my heart. My mother, because it is her 53rd birthday, and the young lifters in Mampang weightlifting club. I was thinking of their future.
What makes you happy?
I'm happy when I praise and worship God. I am happy when I have time with my parents and when I see them happy. I am happy when I am able to share my knowledge in weightlifting to young children and inspire them. I am happy when I give happiness to our people.
Photos property of Hidilyn Diaz