MANILA, Philippines -- Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz can still remember how she felt when competing in the Olympics for the first time.
Diaz made her debut in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, as a wild card entry. Then only 17 years old, Diaz placed second to the last among a 12-woman field.
"Pag-open ng door 'yung 2008," she said on "Play It Right TV."
"Nag-open 'yun ng door para makita ko kung ano 'yung Olympics, noong 2008. Kasi talagang wala akong alam kung ano 'yung Olympics," she admitted.
She competed again in the 2012 Games in London, and for a third time in 2016, in Rio de Janeiro. There, Diaz had her breakthrough, winning the silver in the women's 53kg division -- the first Olympic medal for the Philippines in 20 years.
In Tokyo this month, Diaz will be gunning for gold. She will be joined by a fellow weightlifter, Elreen Ando, who will be making her Olympic debut after qualifying through a continental allocation.
Diaz had nothing but words of praise for Ando, who she said greatly deserved her spot in the Summer Games.
"Kahit unexpected 'yung pagpasok niya sa Olympics, alam kong deserve niya 'yun. Pinaghirapan niya, nag-training siya," Diaz said of Ando, a silver medalist in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games who will compete in the 64kg division.
Asked about her advice for Ando, Diaz kept it simple.
"Para sa akin kasi, 'pag first time, ang advice ko sa kanila is enjoy the moment. Kasi hindi ka everytime na makakapaglaro sa Olympics. So enjoy the moment, enjoy the preparation, enjoy the tears, 'yung paghihirap sa training," said Diaz.
Much like she did during her first Olympic stint, Diaz says that Ando should use this experience as a lesson and build on it for future competitions.
"Kung ano man 'yung maging result nito, use it as a lesson. 'Yung experience, use it as a lesson para makapag-move forward siya for the next Olympics," she explained. "Kasi may three years pa to prepare, and hopefully mas gagalingan niya sa next Olympics."
As she prepares for her fourth -- and perhaps final -- Olympic stint, Diaz says this feels like a "graduation" for her.
"Noong 2016, doon na 'yung time na, masasabi ko nasa klase na ako. Maganda na 'yung grado ko, kaya nanalo ako ng silver medal sa Olympics," she said.
"Ngayon naman, siguro ide-describe ko 'yung 2020 Tokyo Olympics ay Dean's Lister, 'pang Dean's Lister na, pang-graduation na. Parang ganoon, pang-graduation na."
Diaz will compete in the women's 55kg division, with her event set for July 26 at the Tokyo International Forum. Ando will compete the next day in the same venue.