A GOLD medal that is a product of years of going through a tough process is how Hidilyn F. Diaz describes her breakthrough performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Speaking at an online forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) on Thursday, Ms. Diaz shared her golden conquest took a while to be completed and had its many ups and downs.
“I first competed in the Olympics in 2008 as a wild card in China and at the time, I really did not know what it was all about. In 2012 in London, I tried to perform better but did not do well. Then 2016, in Rio, I won silver. After that, I felt I could still go at it in Tokyo,” said Ms. Diaz.
But preparations for the 2020 Olympics, which was rescheduled this year, turned out to be tougher than what she expected with the coronavirus coming into play.
Ms. Diaz said that good thing that her supporters both in government and private sector provided her with the opportunity to surround herself with a group of people, collectively known as “Team HD,” who stuck by her and helped her stay the course to achieve her Olympic dreams.
The team is composed of Chinese head coach Gao Kaiwen, strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad.
“They (team) are the big difference this time around. I have them to guide me and prepare me. I could not have done it without them,” she said.
Ms. Diaz and her team spent much of the last two years training in Malaysia for the Olympics.
They stayed there far longer than what was scheduled as the pandemic prevented them from going back to the country with all the restrictions in effect both in Malaysia and in the Philippines.
Early on it was very tough, Ms. Diaz said, as they did not have the needed equipment for their training. But with collective resilience and go-getting mind-set, they were able to pull through.
“We just never gave up. We moved forward and made do at first of what we had,” she said. “I really wanted to win, not only for myself and the country, but also for my team.”
As to her future plans, she said she will continue to compete in the World Championships later this year, and in the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games in 2022.
The next Olympics in Paris in 2024 is still something she will evaluate first.
“For Paris, I will still have to see where my body is at. And if I can still do it, then I’ll go for it.”
Ms. Diaz expressed hope that following her gold medal win, more Filipinos will be inspired to pursue their passions and dreams, whether in sports or something else.
“Fate may have brought me to where I am right now, but I just went for what I wanted to accomplish. I encourage everyone to keep reaching for their goals. Work hard to achieve them. Anything is possible.” — Michael Angelo S. Murillo