For an athlete, success is always sweeter after the journey they traverse in order to achieve what they have been dreaming of. Of course, some starts may not be smooth, but in these things they will learn.
And for the now-medaled weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, it is no different.
A very young Diaz — 14 years of age to be exact — entered the hall of Luxur Place in Bacolod beaming with excitement and anxiousness for the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. “Siyempre, excited,” she shared.
“First SEA Games ko ‘yun. I don’t know what to expect. Ayun, fifth over [five competitors]. Pero then again, it’s my first time. So ayun ‘yung nag-fuel sa ‘kin for the next SEA Games para mas manalo.”
From that initial foray into the competition, there was nowhere else but up for the then-budding weightlifter. She kept going forward, up until she claimed a silver medal — in the Olympics, no less, in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“Bata ako that time, and now it’s like dreaming for more.
“Ako, inaamin ko, ambisyosa ko as an athlete and I want to do more,” she said. “It’s not all na banat ka lang ng banat, especially sa weightlifting. Kailangan talaga ng strategy. And be smart in training and ‘yung goal-setting talaga.”
With that mentality and drive to do more, she reached yet another goal — winning a gold in the biennial meet. And it was all the more special since she’d won it in front of a very supportive crowd, including her family.
“Ang isang mindset ko lang talaga was to do my best, to do my best for the country,” Diaz recalled on what she felt before the competition.
“And to represent God as well sa sports. Kasi at the end of the day, may mga nangyayari na you cannot control, and grateful ako na yung SEA Games naging maayos.”
Ending her longing for capturing that elusive gold medal, the Zamboaguena felt relieved and pleased. “Masaya kasi andito ‘yung tatay ko, ‘yung nanay ko. Nakita nila kung gaano ka-intense ang weightlifting sa international.
“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa lahat, lahat ng pumunta nung kahapong laro ko, kasi alam kong Monday and lahat may trabaho, and naglaan sila ng oras, nanood siila, nakihiyaw sila.
“Hindi ako nabigo at pinasaya ko sila,” she closed.