DAVAO CITY -- It was a special moment for Olympian Hidilyn Diaz to win a gold medal on Monday night's 55-kilogram weightlifting event of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in front of her whole family, who watching her match for the first time.
That is except for her cousin, Catz Diaz, who cannot leave his job as a CrossFit coach in Davao City.
Instead of watching live, Catz watched online and couldn't help but to feel proud of Hidilyn's performance and achievement.
"Kasi sa last na record niya, is 115 kg. lang na clean and jerk. So na-break niya sa 120 kg. So ako din nagulat nung pagtayo ni Heidi. So wala na, kasi jerker siya eh," he said.
Coach Catz, who was a former team captain of Zamboanga's weightlifting team, trained Hidilyn in their hometown of Zamboanga when she was 10 years old. He saw the potential of his cousin in weightlifting because of her physical built.
"Noong una kasi, isinailalim ko sa training 'yung batang lalaki, kasi alam mo naman 'pag lalaki, malakas. Pero pagkakita ko kay Hidilyn, kasi sa magkakapatid, siya 'yung malaki ang katawan, parang brusko. So nung nakita ko siya, may potential talaga siya na mag-lift ng weights. So 'yun, niyaya ko siya na mag-join and try, then tinuruan ko na siya ng basics ng weightlifting," recalled Catz.
Through her perseverance and hard work, Hidilyn won in local competitions such as Batang Pinoy, and later became part of the Philippines' weightlifting team.
However, there were challenges along the way. Hidilyn's failures and withdrawal of government support bothered her. She almost gave up her dreams and planned to undergo training abroad to become a weightlifting coach.
"Sabi ko, 'Kung kaya mo pa, ipaglaban mo 'yung dreams mo, pero kung wala talaga, kung hindi mo na talaga ma-feel na happy ka pa sa ginagawa mo, pursue mo 'yung gusto mo na career na mag coach.' So nung nanalo na siya sa Rio Olympics, sabi ko sa kanya, 'Iba 'yung plan ni God sa 'yo, hindi 'yung plan mo ang nasunod,'" he said.
Weightlifting runs in the blood, Catz said, as three of their family members are now part of the Philippine weightlifting team -- Hidilyn, bronze medalist Mary Flor Diaz, and another cousin Jeffrey Garcia.
It was because of Catz’s willingness to train 10 of his cousins that made them finish all college through scholarship programs.
"Para sa akin, since nasa weightlifting ako, so lahat ng family member ko noon, tine-train ko para at least sila din maka-ano ng scholar sa school," he saud,
Kateleen Diaz, his 16-year old daughter, wants to follow the footsteps of her aunt, Hidilyn, and now undergoes training through the aid of Philippine Sports Commission. She received a gold medal in Batang Pinoy and a silver in this year's Arafura Games in Australia.
Catz is elated with the boost of government support in weightlifting after Hidilyn's feat, but still hopes to strengthen training and facilities of this competitive sport in the regions.
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