In line with International Women’s Month, we feature Hidilyn Diaz, whose perseverance earned her the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold medal, wowing Filipino OKBET fans.
Hidilyn Diaz’s Beginnings
Born in a small town in Zamboanga City on February 20, 1991, Diaz was introduced to weightlifting at the young age of 11, thanks to her cousin, Alex Diaz, a regional weightlifting coach.
She initially wanted to be a banker, but her love for the sport ensued. Diaz had to come up with ways like selling vegetables and entering part-time jobs to receive proper weightlifting training.
Diaz even had to pause college at the Universidad de Zamboanga, where she took up a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.
Her first taste of competition was in 2002 when she competed for the Batang Pinoy in Puerto Princesa. It was the beginning of her thirst to compete at the highest level of weightlifting.
At age 13, she became part of the Philippine national weightlifting team. She first represented the country in 2007, when she competed in the Southeast Asian Games, finishing third and giving the Philippines a bronze. It was in 2008 when the national athlete competed in the Olympics for the first time.
Even if she was a wild card entry to the Summer Olympics, Diaz, who was 17 then, snatched 85kg and did a clean-and-jerk 107 kg for a total of 192kg. Despite being the youngest among the competitors, she grabbed sixth place.
Her Pursuit Continues
Hidilyn Diaz dreamt of giving the Philippines its first gold medal. To achieve it, she competed non-stop until she could qualify for the Olympics again.
Thus, in 2012, she qualified for the Continental and World Qualifying Tournaments, ranking 9th in the 58-kg category, making her eligible for the Olympics.
Unfortunately, Diaz was not meant to be an Olympic gold medalist just yet. Among other 19 other weightlifters, she finished 12 after failing to lift 118kg in clean-and-jerk.
However, it did not dishearten the Filipino champion. In 2015, she earned gold at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Phuket, Thailand. At the same time, Diaz received the bronze medal at the World Weightlifting Championships in Houston, Texas.
By finishing third in the 2016 Asian Weightlifting Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Diaz was able to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
But the gold evaded her in Rio. She only snared a silver medal in the tournament, but enough to end the silver medal drought of the Philippines since 1996.
Diaz won the Philippines’ first Asian Games gold medal in 2018, where she managed to lift 207 kg in total. She managed to beat Kristina Shermetova of Turkmenistan and Surodchana Khambao of Thailand.
In 2019, the Zamboangueña earned medal after medal, where she won two bronze at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships, a silver in the Asian Championship, and a second gold at SEA Games.
She followed her success by winning the 2020 World Cup in Rome, Italy, and adding another gold medal to her collection.
Hidilyn Diaz: “My Turn”
In the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Diaz, at 30 years old, set her eyes on one goal: to get that gold. She accomplished her goal by lifting 127 kg in the clean-and-jerk and snatched 97 kg for a total of 224 kg—an Olympic record.
Diaz gave the Philippines an Olympic gold medal—the first since entering the tournament in 1924.
Hoping to repeat her success, the Zamboangueña promised to give the country another gold medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics.