Hidilyn Diaz: This 4’11” Olympian packs a big punch


Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines competes in the women’s 58kg Group A snatch weightlifting competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 11, 2008. REUTERS/Yves Herman (CHINA)

By DENNIS GASGONIA
abs-cbnNEWS.com

At 4′ 11″, Hidilyn Diaz is the smallest among all the Filipino athletes who will be representing the country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But, boy, she is the strongest, pound-for-pound, among the 15-man RP contingent.

“Nagbuhat po ako ng 56 kilograms,” said Hidilyn when asked about her lifts.

The 17-year-old Zamboangeña, the first Filipino weightlifter to be named to the Olympic team since 1988, said she started competing at a young age.

“Eleven years [old po ako] nagsimula,” said Diaz.

Before entering the competitive scene, she used to fetch water for their family’s use since they had no direct access to their community’s water supply.

And since she had relatives who did competitive weightlifting at the national level, she decided to give it a try.

At the age of 13, she was admitted into the national pool and given formal training to be among the best powerlifters of the Philippines.

Through hard training and discipline, she placed 10th in the 53-kilogram class of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. In the 2007 Southeast Asian Games in Thailand, she won the bronze medal in the 58-kilogram class.

Diaz impressed the International Weightlifting Federation with her performance in the 2007 SEAG that she was given a wildcard berth to the Olympics.

Thus, Diaz became part of the country’s representatives to Beijing which include fellow Zamboanga native Harry Tañamor, taekwondo jins Toni Rivero and Tshomlee Go, swimmers Miguel Molina, Ryan Arabejo, Daniel Coakley, James Walsh and Christel Simms, divers Rexel Ryan Fabriga and Sheila Mae Perez, archer Mark Javier, sprinters Henry Dagmil and Maristela Torres and shooter Eric Ang.

When asked how she felt after she was informed about her Beijing trip, she said: “Nasorpresa ako. Mangiyak-iyak nga ako eh.”

To increase her chance of winning at the Olympics, she had to make sacrifices and undergo tough training in China.

“’Di ako makapag-aral… college na po ako, kaso tumigil ako para magtrain,” said Diaz.

She added that she have been away from her family for several months now.

But like the other 14 Olympians, she said she is happy and excited in competing at the international arena.

“Masaya po. Excited na po akong lumaro,” a beaming Diaz said.

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