Olympics medals are the highest achievement for any athlete or any country. The Philippines had not won a Gold medal since its participation in 1924.
The 2020 Olympics was remarkable for the Philippines and Filipinos. It was when they received their first gold medal after 96 years.
Hidilyn Diaz, the weightlifter, was the first gold Olympic medalist of the Philippines.
Diaz made her Olympic debut in 2008. After two consecutive fails to win any medal, Diaz won a silver medal at Olympic 2016.
This was the Philippines Olympic medal after 20 years. Moreover, she was the first female Olympic medalist.
In this article, we will talk about the story of Hidilyn Diaz, who went on lifting water jars to dumbbells in the Olympics.
But, let’s take a glance at her quick facts.
|Hidilyn Francisco Diaz
|32 years old
|February 20, 1991
|Zamboanga City, Philippines
|55 (121 lb)
|Computer science (Drop out), Business management ( Running)
|Universidad de Zamboanga, De La Salle-College
|First Filipino to win Olympic gold
|1; Gold medal and 1; Silver Medal
|3; Gold medals, 4; Silver medals and 5 Bronze medals
|Julius Naranjo, Gao Kaiwen
|Weightlifting Shoes, Weightlifting Equipment
Who is Hidilyn Diaz?
Hidilyn Francisco Diaz is an Olympic weightlifter and airwoman from the Philippines. She is best known as the first Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal for her country.
Also, she holds the Olympic’s highest weightlifting record in the women’s 55 kg division.
In addition, Diaz has won several international awards for weightlifting. She currently has two Olympics medals; one gold and one silver medal. She earned them at Olympics 2020 and Olympics 2016 respectively.
She has won three gold medals in Asian Games, Asian Championships, and Southeast Asian Games.
Furthermore, Diaz also has four silver medals and five bronze medals in her pocket earned from International tournaments.
The Early Life of Hidilyn Diaz
Hidilyn Diaz was born on February 20, 1991, in the small town of Zamboanga City in the Philippines. Her father, Eduardo, and mother, Emeliata Diaz, had six children.
Hidilyn was the youngest child in the family. Her family had to go through financial struggles.
To feed the big family, his father went on switching jobs for better opportunities. His father worked as a tricycle driver then switched on to become a fisherman.
Diaz used to help his father to sell the fish in the market. She wanted to become a banker to get her family out of poverty.
Hidilyn Diaz’s Education
There is not much information about the primary and high school education of Hidilyn Diaz. However, it is known that she enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Universidad de Zamboanga.
Diaz, however, dropped out of university in her third year. She felt she didn’t want to pursue that career.
She started to focus more on her Olympic training than earning a University degree. Nevertheless, Diaz chose to continue her studies after receiving a scholarship in 2016.
Diaz was awarded a scholarship to study business management at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. She started attending the classes in January 2017.
However, in 2019, Diaz took a leave of absence from school to focus on Olympic preparation.
Diaz re-enrolled in online classes in 2020 when the Summer Olympics were postponed to July 2021.
Hidilyn Diaz’s Weightlifting Career
How did she get into Weightlifting?
Diaz initially wanted to become a banker. But, she found her true calling after her cousin introduced her to sports.
Diaz dabbled in basketball, volleyball, badminton and eventually found her true calling in weightlifting.
She started lifting weights at the age of 11, where she used a homemade concrete barbell and water jars to practice.
Slowly, Diaz won weightlifting competitions in her school competitions, and the rest is history.
Making Olympic debut at Summer Olympics 2008.
Hidilyn Diaz was selected for the Summer Olympics and made her Olympic debut in 2008.
She is the first female Olympic weightlifter from the Philippines and the country’s sixth overall weightlifter.
But, she did not perform well in the event. Diaz finished second last in a field of 12 weightlifters. However, her effort was praised and considered promising for her age.
Summer Olympics 2012
Diaz was also selected to compete in the 2012 London Olympics. She was the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in two Olympic Games in a row.
However, Hidilyn couldn’t do well in the Olympics. Diaz ended up as one of the two participants who didn’t finish in the competition.
The first Olympic medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics
Diaz competed in her third consecutive Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
To improve her chances to win the medal, Diaz dropped her weight from 58 kg to 53 kg. She participated in the 53 kg weightlifting category for women.
She was hoping for a bronze medal at the very least. But to everyone’s surprise, Diaz earned the silver medal at the event, surpassing her own personal goal.
This was the Philippines’ first medal at the Summer Olympics in 20 years. This was also the country’s first non-boxing medal since 1936.
She became the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in three Olympics in a row. Not only this, she is also the first Filipino woman to earn an Olympic medal.
The first gold at Asian Games 2018
Diaz competed at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the women’s 53 kg event.
She recorded a total lift of 207 kg, winning the first position. As a result, Diaz won the first gold medal in her weightlifting career. It was also the Philippines’ first gold medal in that event.
The first Olympic gold at 2020 Olympics game
It was Diaz’s fourth appearance in Olympics. She made a historic achievement by earning the Philippines their first gold medal.
Diaz’s accomplishments in the 2020 Summer Olympics were particularly noteworthy. This is because she couldn’t train properly due to Covid restrictions and lockdowns.
In addition, Hidilyn had a mental breakdown. She could not train as expected and had no idea if she could participate in the Olympics or not.
There were no gyms were open during the pandemic. So, Diaz practiced weight lifting with bamboo sticks and water jars.
The determination and hard work are what brought her victory in the Olympics.
Hidilyn Diaz | Military Career
In 2013, Hidilyn Diaz applied for the military arm’s Direct Enlistment Program and was selected for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
She was also granted an Air Force Specialty Code for weightlifting recreation. In 2014, She was promoted to Airwoman Second Class.
Apart from this, Diaz also received a Presidential Citation Unit Badge and a Military Merit Medal for arranging PAF activities.
She was posted to the PAF Personnel Management Center temporarily while prepping for her appearance at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The PAF awarded her a promotion to Staff Sergeant for her remarkable performances at the Olympics.
Awards and Recognitions
Hidilyn Diaz became the first Filipino to bring the Olympics gold medal to the Philippines.
In addition, she was awarded the Athlete of the Year in 2017 by the Philippines Sportswriters Association.
Moreover, Diaz was honored by the Government of the Philippines for her contribution to Philippines weightlifting in 2016 and 2021.
Hidilyn Diaz’s Boyfriend, Julius Naranjo
Hidilyn Diaz is engaged to her coach Julius Naranjo. Both had been dating for quite a long time. Julius proposed Hidilyn with the dumbbell-inspired gold ring, to which Hidilyn said a big yes!
Their love story began at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in 2017. Both were participants at that time.
Julius is half Filipino and half-Japanese, born in Guam. Julius was representing his country Guam in the 62 kg category.
It was love at first sight. Julius had fallen in love with her. But, he had no idea how big she was in the Philippines.
Julius was drawn with her willpower and attitude of not giving up. On the other hand, Diaz had no interest in him.
Slowly, the two fellow Filipinos bonded in the competition. Finally, they fell in love and started dating.
Julius found the love of his life but lost his career. After the competition, Julius figured that he had severe back pain.
The doctor found a crack in his backbones. For that reason, he recommended that he should not do weightlifting anymore.
Julius needed doctor permission to continue his weight lifting career. As a result, his career was over.
He could no longer be a weightlifter but shifted on to become the coach. He then moved to the Philippines to become the coach of her love Hidilyn Diaz.
Finally, Julius was appointed as the coach of Hidilyn for the Olympic Core team. The duo is probably one of the iconic couples who brought the Philippines their first gold medal.
The couples won both on their love and weightlifting, and they are looking forward to their marriage.
Hidilyn Diaz | Business
Diaz started her business named HD Cleaning Services PH. It is a home solution business.
Then, in 2019, she partnered with Chef Allan Jose to launch a food business named Komida Foods. The Chef had even prepared her meal in her Olympics journey.
She started Komida to provide healthy and affordable foods to everyone. However, This brand is more focused on athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Hidilyn Diaz | Net Worth
Diaz is the richest weightlifter in the Philippines. She has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million.
It all comes from her Olympic wins, her business, and her endorsements.
After her historic win in Olympics, Diaz received 33 million pesos or $650,103. She received the sum from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the business people of the Philippines.
Moreover, the Olympic gold medalist in the Phillippines is given 10 million pesos or $197,000.They are granted by the Philippines government sports agency.
Also, Diaz earns handsome money from the endorsement. In addition, she was announced as the brand ambassador of BDO Unibank.
Diaz is active on her Instagram. She posts there about her rehearsals, couple photos, and family moments.
In addition, she connects with her fan through her Instagram. If you want to take a sneak peek at her behind the scenes from the Olympics, then you can follow her.
Instagram: 268k followers
Why did Hidilyn Diaz train for Olympics in Malaysia?
The covid situation and lockdown did the training hard in the Philippines. So, she moved to Malaysia to prepare for her win in Olympics 2020.
Who funded Hidilyn Diaz’s training in Malaysia?
How much did Hidilyn Diaz lift?
Apart from winning gold at the Olympics, Hidilyn Diaz also set an Olympic record of lifting 224 kilograms in total.
In addition, she lifted the highest weight to the date at women’s 55 kg in Olympics 2020.