As seen from the Silver-medal-winning example of Philippine Olympic weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, humble beginnings are no barrier to making one’s dreams come true. Before she conquered the most prestigious sporting event in the world, she was just an ordinary girl who grew up in a small town in Zamboanga City.
Diaz’s passion for weightlifting started when she was just 10 years old. According to her father, Eduardo Diaz, Hidilyn took an interest in the sport upon seeing her cousins training and asked to be trained as well. Her first coach was her cousin, Allen Jayfrus Diaz, who started her off on dumbbells and barbells made from old milk cans filled with concrete. It wasn’t long until Hidilyn surpassed them in skill and capability, and sought to be trained professionally. Graduating to rusty weightlifting materials donated by her coaches and friends, Hidilyn has had quite the journey on the road to becoming the country’s first female Olympic Medal-winner.
Described by her teachers as lovable, industrious, and always with a sweet smile on her face, Hidilyn did not neglect her academics, balancing school at Mampang Elementary and Universidad de Zamboanga with training and competitions. With the blessing of the faculty and an admiring student body that chipped in for her competition transportation and food, Hidilyn became something of a celebrity. She would repay the favors by bringing back her hard-earned medals.
When her father was diagnosed with a liver ailment, Hidilyn was forced to stop schooling when they could no longer afford the daily 30-peso transportation fare. At one point, Hidilyn even took on a job sorting agar-agar (seaweed) under the heat of the sun for her family to be able to buy rice. All the while, she continued her training and stewadily improved her competition standings. To date, she has represented the Philippines everywhere from the SEA Games to Texas, USA.
Despite some shortcomings, Hidilyn has accomplished what she set out to, which was to bring pride not only to her family, but to every Filipino across the globe. Now, as Hidilyn’s dreams have become a reality, no one can deny how a passion for sports can lead anyone to greatness.