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After Winning Silver, The Olympian Now Aiming To Take Home Philippines’ First Gold In Tokyo

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Who is Hidilyn Diaz: The 30-year-old weightlifter sealed a spot in the Tokyo Olympics with her participation in the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Although she narrowly missed a podium finish, Diaz booked a ticket to her fourth, and probably last, Olympic Games, an important step towards her ultimate goal.

At Rio Olympics in 2016, Diaz became the first woman from the Philippines to win an Olympic medal when she grabbed silver in the women’s weightlifting 53kg final. Now, she is eager to win the first ever Olympic gold medal for the Philippines this summer.

According to AFP News Agency, the athlete has been stuck in Malaysia since early 2020 because of the pandemic. However she hasn’t lost her vision of winning an Olympic gold. “I’m ready,” Diaz told AFP recently, taking a break from her long hours of the final preparation. Now aged 30, the Filipina sportstar knows winning another medal in the Olympics will inspire young women in her country even further to take up sports as a profession.

Who is Hidilyn Diaz?

Back in 2014, Diaz had a knee injury and was unable to compete at the Asian Games so she decided to become fitter and stronger. She also challenged herself to switch to a lower weight category from 58kg to 53kg for a better result. After competing at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016, Diaz said that Tokyo 2020 could be her last Olympics but later it was postponed. At the 2021 Asiad Championships, Diaz lifted a 90kg snatch on her second attempt to book that ticket to Tokyo. Talking about her bout, she told ESPN that her coaches reminded her about the technique she was trained in and she also calmed herself down to achieve what she needed. Days after her stint in Uzbekistan, she went on to admit that she had to deal with nerves as it had been a while since she joined an actual competition. The silver medal at Rio was a huge deal for her since her win ended the country’s 20-year Olympics medal drought for the Philippines since boxer Onyok Velasco’s silver medal finish in 1996.

Diaz became even stronger and two years later she struck gold at the Asian Games in Indonesia and repeated the feat at the South East Asian Games on home soil in 2019. Diaz, is the daughter of a tricycle driver in a poor village near the port of Zamboanga on the southern island of Mindanao. She has not seen her family since December 2020.

But before any retirement happens, World No 2 Diaz is fiercely determined to imploring herself to be in the best shape for the Olympics, which open in under two months on July 23.

Feature Image Credit: AFP News Agency