MANILA, Philippines -- While her place in the Philippines' sporting lore is forever secure, Hidilyn Diaz still has goals that she wants to achieve outside of weightlifting.
Diaz on Monday became the first-ever Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal, ruling the 55kg division in the Tokyo Games with a record-setting total of 224kg. She outdueled a Chinese rival, Liao Qiuyun, to reach the top of the podium.
It was already Diaz's second Olympic medal, having won silver in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
She has already decided that she will continue to compete, with the world championships in November as her next focus. She plans to represent the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games next year as well, after which she will re-evaluate her career.
But when asked about her immediate plans, Diaz said, "Kailangan kong balikan 'yung module ko sa school, para makapag-aral ako."
Speaking in an online forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines on Thursday, Diaz admitted that she is falling behind her requirements at the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (CSB) as she has been laser-focused on the Olympic Games for the past few weeks.
"Magt-two weeks na akong nag-absent so baka masyado na akong late sa school. Kailangan ko na balikan 'yun," said Diaz, who is taking up Business Management at CSB.
She took a leave of absence from school in 2019 upon the advice of her coach, after a dip in form that saw her slip down the world rankings.
The decision was a tough one she admits, because she also wants to earn her diploma. But she also knew that it was part of the sacrifices she had to make in order to achieve her Olympic dream.
"Kahit kasi gusto ko rin makapagtapos ng pag-aaral, gusto kong magkaroon ng diploma, eh ginive up ko 'yun para sa Olympics. Worth it naman," she said on ANC's "Headstart" with Karen Davila on Thursday.
While stuck in Malaysia last year, Diaz decided to take up online classes, juggling her responsibilities as a student along with her Olympic training. She told Davila that studying helped her remain on an even keel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Sabi nga nila, kaya mo pa bang mag-aral?" she said. "Sabi ko, kailangan kong mag-aral, kasi kung hindi, baka mababaliw ako."
"Kasi masyado akong nag-overthink kung wala akong ginagawa. And sabi ko, kailangan kunin ko 'to as an opportunity para matuto sa pag-aaral, habang andito ako, preparing for Olympics. Kinuha ko 'yung opportunity na 'yun para matuto, at eto, hindi sayang ang oras," she added.
Now that she has achieved her ultimate goal of bringing home the Philippines' first-ever gold, Diaz said she will now turn her attention to her academic requirements.
"Malapit na ako mag-graduate. Malapit na, mga two terms na lang," she said. "Tatapusin ko ito, at isa 'yun sa mga goal ko after Olympics."
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