Coming from a family comprising four generations of weightlifters, Hidilyn Diaz always seemed destined for the sport.
Yet, at her lowest point two years ago after a series of unfortunate events — including the loss of her coach and injury — she almost called it quits after losing her motivation.
Faced with the choice of giving it all up or buckling down and continuing to pursue her dream, Diaz chose the path of greater resistance when others might have shown less resolve.
In August this year, her decision proved to be the right one when she ended Philippines’ 20-year Olympic medal drought by winning silver in the women’s 53kg division in Rio de Janeiro.
There is no doubting that Diaz has displayed tremendous perseverance, desire and resilience to achieve her goals. Sometimes, however, having faith that everything will fall into place in the end can also be crucial.
“I surrendered everything to God,” said the 25-year-old in an interview with Inquirer. “I asked him to send me the Holy Spirit so I can do what needs to be done. When God gave me the chance to compete in the Rio Olympics, I thought that He gave me the chance and I needed to give it my all.”
Remarkably, on that fateful Aug. 7 afternoon, Diaz had been celebrating what she initially thought was a bronze medal.
She was already huddled away in a corner praying and giving thanks for the achievement when she was informed by an opposition coach that she had, in fact, finished in second place.
The third time clearly proved to be the charm for Diaz, given she had twice before competed at the Olympic Games.
While she may have finished second to last at Beijing 2008, she had been the youngest competitor in the 58kg category at the age of 17. Four years later, she was the flag bearer for Philippines in London, although she failed to record a score in the clean and jerk.
While she now can proudly call herself an Olympic medalist, Diaz has had to overcome her fair share of resistance along her journey.
In order to focus on her sporting dream, she was forced to sacrifice her studies, having initially been pursuing a computer science degree.
Diaz remains the main breadwinner — she holds the rank of airwoman first class in the Philippine Air Force — for her family despite being the fifth of six children.
Having realized her own dreams, Diaz also aims to help the next generation of aspiring athletes do the same. The Zamboanga City native planned to build a gym using the cash incentive awarded by the government for her Olympic feat.
Diaz hopes eventually to become a coach herself, training, guiding and inspiring future Olympians.
Bringing to them a new hope.