LONDON – Hidilyn Diaz is the first Filipina weightlifter to represent the country in two straight Olympics.
The 21-year-old weightlifter qualified for the London games after her impressive performances in two qualifiers by the International Weightlifting Federation.
Diaz, a native of Zamboanga City, is from a family of weightlifting enthusiasts. She fell in love with the sport at an early age.
She has bronze, silver and 2 golds in her belt from elite weightlifting competitions in Asia.
She competed in her first Olympics at the age of 16 as a wild card entry for the Philippines.
Diaz acknowledges that the training at Surrey Sports Park in the United Kingdom is no easy feat, especially with her body adjusting to the challenging weather conditions.
"Medyo nahirapan pa ako, pero nakakacover naman... apektado ako sa weather, pati ang time, and pati pagkain dito," said Diaz.
But her coach is determined to bring out the best in Diaz.
"Actually before coming to London nasa competition period na kami. So, more on preparation na talaga, puro classical conditioning, sa weather, ‘yung parang simulation for the competition na lang talaga ang ginawa namin,” said coach Antonio Agustin.
The London Olympics is special for Diaz because she will be the country's flag bearer at the opening ceremony on July 27.
"’Pag sasabihin nila na flag bearer, siyempre titingnan nila ang performance ko, tapos 'yung tanong kung bakit ako, syempre may mga tanong din ako sa sarili ko. Deserving ako, nag-qualify din ako sa Olympics, tapos nagboto pa sila sa akin. ‘Di ko alam kung bakit nila ako binoto, pero tingin ko deserving ako," she said.
Diaz is set to compete in the 58-kg division on July 30.