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  • Hidilyn Diaz Once Called Herself 'Laos': 'Dapat Ko Rin I-Appreciate 'Yung Muscles Ko'

    “Mas pinili ko pa rin yung weightlifting.. Kasi ito yung sports na pinapa-feel sakin na belong ako'
    by Maita de Jesus .
Hidilyn Diaz Once Called Herself 'Laos': 'Dapat Ko Rin I-Appreciate 'Yung Muscles Ko'
PHOTO BY (FROM LEFT) Instagram/hidilyndiaz, Jerome Ascano
  • Imagine if your 11-year-old daughter began lifting weights. At that time, her body is still developing, and she’s surrounded by boys who are probably older and bigger than her. No matter how “woke” of a mother you think you are, you also know how the world treats little girls. It’s natural to feel even a little bit scared for your daughter.

    That’s perhaps the place where Hidliyn Diaz’s mom, Emelita, was in back when her second to the youngest child was 11 years old and started tagging along with her older brothers to the gym, taking interest in lifting weights — and getting good at it.

    In an exclusive interview with Summit Media editors called Sandwich Sessions back in March 2021, the Olympic gold medalist remembered her mom warning her about what might happen if she continued with the sport. 

     Ang weightlifting kasi diba pag nagbubuhat ka, malalaglag yung matres mo. Sabi niya, 'wag ka jan, baka hindi ka mabubuntis at walang magkakagusto sayo magiging Amazona ka, Hidilyn recalled.


    Hidilyn's 19-year career as a weightlifter wasn't always easy. Apart from feeling insecure with her muscular body, the Olympic champion almost gave up her dream when she suffered an injury in 2014.

    In an interview with ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, Hidilyn's first coach and cousin, Catalino "Catz" Diaz shared that the Philippines' weightlifting fairy almost gave up her dream. She faced a number of rejections as a woman, where other people thought she would not be able to join the sport just because she's a girl.

    “Before pa ng Rio Olympics, nung time na 'yun... gusto niya na rin mag-quit kasi sa tagal na nagjojoin siya ng weightlifting sa Olympics wala siyang nakukuha, Catz shared.

    He said that Hidilyn also suffered from depression due to an injury and losing her coach. “Tapos less ang support... Dati wala po siyang nutritionist, strength (conditioning), Catz said.

    But the weightlifter still found the courage to continue with the sport. It was her injury that became a turning point.

    “Nung nagka injury ako, dun ko naisip na laos na ako. Dun ko naisip na parang, 'Alis na ba ako sa weightlifting? Wala na? Paano na to? Ito yung buhay ko paano ako aalis dito? Paano pag wala na yung weightlifting sa buhay ko, paano na ako?', she recalled.

    “Dun ko narealize na andaming naibigay sa akin ng weightlifting. Dun ko narealize kung gaano ako katagal na sa weightlifting. Tapos sabi ko, mahal ko pala ang weightlifting.. Dapat ko pala i-appreciate yung sports ko, dapat ko rin i-appreciate yung mga muscles ko,” she said.

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    “Ito yung mga hardwork na alam mo yung, six to nine sessions a week yung training tapos ikakahiya ko. So, dapat I have to love my sport and myself,” she added.

    Being an athlete requires you to be in your best shape, and for weightlifters, you need to build that muscle, a trait that, back then, Mommy Emelita wasn’t happy with. But in the end, it was Hidilyn’s choice to pursue what she loved.

    “Mas pinili ko pa rin yung weightlifting.. Kasi ito yung sports na pinapa-feel sakin na belong ako. Pinapafeel sakin na malakas ako,” she shares.

    Hidilyn proved to have made the right choice for herself, going on to become the youngest weightlifter back in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when she was only 17 years old. She then won a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

    Mommy Emelita also became her biggest fan. In a 2017 interview with SmartParenting.com.ph, the weightlifting champ shared that her mom is her prayer warrior.


    “Every time na may nangyayari or hindi binibigay sa akin yung sitwasyon, sabi niya, 'Pray ka lang kasi baka may plan din si God.' Binibigyan niya ako ng pag-asa through prayers, sinasabi niya, 'Nagdasal ako para sa 'yo'. Siya yung talagang prayer warrior ko.”

    China was favored to win the gold in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. But Hidilyn had other plans. She made history last July 26, 2021 as the first Filipino ever to win an Olympic gold medal and for weightlifting.

    Filipinos all over the world erupted in cheers and with Pinoy Pride over Hidilyn’s win, ending the 97-year gold medal drought of the Philippines. Not only did she win the gold for her country, the 30-year old also broke two world records.

    When asked on how she feels about her daughter’s triumph, Emelita says, “Sobra-sobrang kaba. Sobra ring masaya na hindi ko maintindihan yung nararamdaman… Congratulations, Hids. Masayang-masaya kami kasi nakatikim ka ng gold medal para sa bansa natin.”


    The road to Olympic glory may have been tough, but Hidilyn hopes she can inspire other Filipino athletes like her to pursue sports and bring glory to the country.

    She says, “’Yon ang importante kahit anong sport ang ginagawa mo as long as ito ang sport na nagbibigay sa ’yo sa ng saya, ng goal, nagiging excellent ka, nagkakaroon ka ng disiplina. Why not? Do it because you want it not because someone says you do it. No, you do it because you want it.”

    Additional text by Kitty Elicay

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