|Born||February 20, 1991|
Zamboanga City, Philippines
|Height||1.50 m (4 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||54.90 kg (121 lb)|
|Service/||Philippine Air Force|
|Years of service||2013–present|
|Unit||Air Force Special Service Group, PAF Personnel Management Center, 710th Special Operations Wing|
|Awards|| Military Merit Medal|
Presidential Citation Unit Badge
|Coached by||Gao Kaiwen (Weightlifting Coach) |
Julius Naranjo (Weightlifting/Strength and Conditioning Coach) Catalino Diaz (First Coach)
Antonio Agustin Jr. (Former Coach)
|Achievements and titles|
Staff Sergeant Hidilyn Francisco Diaz (Tagalog pronunciation: [haɪdɪˈlin]; born February 20, 1991) is a Filipino weightlifter and airwoman, the first Filipino to ever win an Olympic gold medal in a non-exhibition sport, (Arianne Cerdeña won gold in bowling, an exhibition sport in the 1988 Games) and an Olympic weightlifting record holder by winning the women's 55 kg category for weightlifting at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
In her early weightlifting years, she was a bronze medalist in the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand and achieved 10th place at the 2006 Asian Games in the 53-kilogram class. While she was a student and representing Universidad de Zamboanga, she won two golds and one silver in the Asian Youth/Junior Weightlifting Championship held in Jeonju, South Korea. She competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics, where she was the youngest competitor in the women's 58-kg category.
On July 26, 2021, Diaz won the Philippines' first Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics for the women's 55 kg category for weightlifting, setting Olympic records for the 55 kg division in the clean and jerk at 127 kg and in the total at 224 kg.
Hidilyn Diaz is the fifth of six children of Eduardo and Emelita Diaz. Her father was a tricycle driver before becoming a farmer and a fisherman. She grew up wanting to be a banker and trying several sports, like basketball and volleyball. Her cousin, Allen Jayfrus Diaz, taught her the basics of weightlifting.
She attended the Universidad de Zamboanga where she pursued a bachelor's degree in computer science. However, Diaz stopped attending the university as a third year irregular student as she found her degree unsuitable for her. She also claimed that it distracted her training. After her success in the 2016 Olympics, Diaz decided to continue her tertiary education and intended to pursue a degree related to sports in Manila.
In 2020, Diaz had re-enrolled into online classes since the Summer Olympics had been postponed to July 2021.
Diaz was selected as a wild card entry to the Summer Olympics by the Philippine Weightlifting Association in early 2008. She is the first female weightlifter to compete for the Philippines in the Olympics, and the sixth weightlifter overall (the first being Rodrigo del Rosario competing in 1948 London Olympics). Competing in the women's 58-kg class, 17-year-old Diaz lifted 85-kg in the snatch and 107-kg in the clean and jerk for a 192-kg total, breaking the Philippine record that she herself set at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games. Although she placed second to last in a field of 12 weightlifters, her performance was praised and considered promising for her age. Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez once commented that she competed there to gain valuable experience and predicted that she would be a strong contender in future competitions.
Diaz became the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in two consecutive Olympics, by qualifying in the women's weightlifting under 58 kg through the Continental and World Qualifying Tournaments. She was ranked ninth in her event heading to the Olympics. During the 2012 London Olympics, Diaz was chosen to be the flagbearer during the Opening Ceremony.
She was coached by Tony Agustin, and they projected a 225 kg lift, above her personal best of 219 kg. She successfully lifted a personal best of 97 kg in the snatch, 12th best among the 19 competitors. However her 118 kg Clean and Jerk was unsuccessful after three attempts. She was one of two competitors (along with Lina Rivas of Colombia) to end with an official result of "Did not finish" (DNF) in the event.
Hidilyn Diaz weighed around 56.28 kg during her first Olympic campaign, making her the lightest among competitors. Come 2012 Olympics, Hidilyn Diaz increased her weight to 57.70 kg but still struggled making it to the top half of the competition. Trying to improve her chances of landing a podium finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Diaz decided to drop weight from under 58 kg to under 53 kg. This proved to be effective as she recently snatched the gold medal in the 1st Southeast Asian Weightlifting Championship in Bangkok. She managed to lift a 98 kg snatch and a 115 kg clean and jerk for a 213 kg total. The same mark is good for 4th place in the 2012 London Olympics.
In the Asian Weightlifting Championships, Diaz copped a gold medal in 2015 and a bronze medal in 2016. She also earned three bronze medals for the clean, jerk and snatch events in the 53 kg division of the IWF World Weightlifting Championship held in Houston, Texas on November 22, 2015 to claim a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In March 2016, Diaz dominated the women's 58 kg event of the 2015-16 Philippine National Games National Finals held at Lingayen Town Plaza, Lingayen, Pangasinan, with a 92 kg snatch and 120 kg clean and jerk (new personal best) combined into 212 kg.
In the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Diaz competed in her 3rd consecutive Olympics in the women's 53kg weightlifting category with the intention of at least winning a bronze medal. Diaz surpassed her own personal target and won the silver medal at the event, after successfully clinching a lift of 88 kg in her second attempt in snatch event (placed 6th) and 111 kg and 112 kg in the first and second attempts in the clean and jerk event (placed 2nd). This was the first medal for the Philippines in the Summer Olympics after 20 years. This was also the first non-boxing medal for the nation since 1936. Aside from being the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in three consecutive Olympics, she also became the first Filipino woman and the second person from Zamboanga and Mindanao to win an Olympic medal (after Simeon Toribio, bronze medal winner of men's high jump in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games).
On August 8, 2016, she returned to her hometown, Zamboanga City and was welcomed as a Hero of the city, From receiving numerous incentives from the Philippine president, Philippine Sports Commission and her local city., she was able to buy land for her sibling and for her gym
Diaz participated in the women's 53 kg event in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Two months prior to the Asian Games, she recruited Gao Kaowen who was previously coach of the Chinese national women's army team. In the women's 53 kg in the 2018 Asian Games, Diaz had a total lift of 207 kg, beating Turkmenistan's Kristina Shermetova (206 kg) and Thailand's Surodchana Khambao (201 kg) to deliver the Philippines' first gold in the 2018 games, as well as being the first Filipino weightlifter of any gender to win a gold medal in the Asian Games.
After winning a bronze in the 2017 World Championships, Diaz again got a bronze in the 2019 edition of the same event. She also won a silver in the 2019 Asian Championship, and another gold in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila.
On July 26, 2021, Diaz won the gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. This was the first ever gold medal won by a Filipino athlete since the country's first appearance in the Olympics in 1924. She set new Olympic weightlifting records by lifting 127kg in the Clean and Jerk and lifting a total weight of 224 kg.
Diaz's achievements at the 2020 Summer Olympics were remarkable, as she was previously stranded in Malaysia from February 2020 until July 2021, due to travel restrictions imposed by governments to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on guidance by her coach, Gao Kaiwen, Diaz initially went to train in Malaysia in February 2020 because Gao thought it would be better for her as she focused on qualifying for Tokyo. However, once Malaysia implemented its Movement Control Order in April 2020, which closed gyms within the capital region of Kuala Lumpur (Klang Valley), she improvised by using bamboo sticks and large water bottles as makeshift weightlifting equipment. In October 2020, she relocated to the southern coastal state of Malacca where they have been living in a house owned by a Malaysian weightlifting official in Jasin. However, the Malaysian government later implemented periodic restrictions on gyms and sporting activities within 2021 (to reduce social interaction and contain the spread of the coronavirus), forcing her to work out in the house's sweltering open-air carport in the immediate months prior to the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Diaz also fought mental breakdown during her ordeal, especially with the postponement of the 2020 Olympics, and credits her team, including sports psychologist Dr. Karen Katrina Trinidad and Project: Steady with trauma therapist Gang Badoy Capati for her well-being. She also kept busy during her training overseas during COVID-19 lockown by cooking, attending meetings and studying.
In recognition of winning the first gold medal for the Philippines at any Olympic Games, she was awarded PHP 35.5 million (approximately US$660,000) along with a house and a lot. The financial and asset awards, were jointly given by both the national government and tycoons from the private sector. Under Philippine law, the Philippine Sports Commission guarantees a 10 million-peso incentive for every Olympic gold.
|Year||Venue||Weight||Snatch (kg)||Clean & Jerk (kg)||Total||Rank|
|2021||Tokyo, Japan||55 kg||94||97||2||119||124||127
|2016||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||53 kg||88||5||111||112||2||200|
|2012||London, United Kingdom||58 kg||92||97||13||DNF||—||DNF|
|2008||Beijing, China||58 kg||80||85||11||102||107||11||192||11|
|2019||Pattaya, Thailand||55 kg||93||8||115||118||121||214|
|2017||Anehaim, United States||53 kg||86||5||110||113||199|
|2015||Houston, United States||53 kg||94||96||115||117||199|
Diaz was recruited into the Philippine Air Force (PAF) through the military arm's Direct Enlistment Program in 2013. She was initially assigned to the Air Force Special Service Group. She was also given an Air Force Specialty Code skill in recreation in weightlifting. In 2014, she was given a promotion from the rank of Airwoman to Airwoman Second Class. Diaz was also a recipient of a Military Merit Medal for organizing PAF events and a Presidential Citation Unit Badge. When Diaz was training for her stint at the 2016 Summer Olympics, she was assigned to PAF Personnel Management Center on a temporary basis. For her achievement at the Olympics, she was given a promotion by the PAF. The extent of the promotion was initially not disclosed but it was later reported that Diaz was promoted to the rank of Airwoman First Class. Diaz was consecutively promoted to the rank of Sergeant after the 2018 Asian Games. On July 27, 2021, following Diaz's success in competing for the Gold Medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, the Philippine Air Force's commanding general, approved Diaz's promotion from Sergeant, to Staff Sergeant.
In April 2019, Diaz was surprised to find her name listed among those included in a matrix of personalities allegedly involved in an ouster plot against president Rodrigo Duterte, as presented by Salvador Panelo who was Presidential Spokesperson at the time. She initially found the allegation laughable, and numerous government officials came to her defense, saying the inclusion of her name and that of fellow athlete Gretchen Ho was ridiculous, but Diaz eventually came to the realization that the inclusion of her name was a threat to her safety and that of her family. Panelo later backtracked on the inclusion of Diaz and Ho's names, saying they were not part of the alleged conspiracy.
Diaz' life leading to her silver medal win in the 2016 Summer Olympics was dramatized in an episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya, a drama anthology series, aired on September 24, 2016. She was portrayed by Jane Oineza.
Diaz is a devout Catholic and credits her faith with inspiring her athletic achievements. She wore a Miraculous Medal at the 2020 Olympic medaling ceremony, which she said is “a sign of our prayers and faith in Mama Mary and Jesus Christ.”
Diaz is dating Julius Naranjo, a former weightlifter who competed for Guam in international competitions and a professional weightlifting coach, a strength and conditioning coach, and filmmaker. Their relationship was featured on an episode of GMA Network's Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho. Diaz first met with Naranjo at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
On February 14, 2017, Diaz was awarded as the Athlete of the Year of the Philippine Sportswriters Association. She is also the recipient of two honors from the Philippine House of Representatives; the Congressional Medals of Distinction (CMD) in 2016 and the Congressional Medal of Excellence (CME) in 2021. The CME, intended for Filipino Olympic gold medalist, was instituted by the Congress' lower house after Diaz won the first ever gold medal for the country in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
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