Hidilyn Diaz tells The GAME about Paris 2024, her plans after the Olympics, and her thoughts on the country’s future in weightlifting.
Yesterday, March 30, The GAME got the opportunity to sit down with Filipino Olympic gold medalist, Hidilyn Diaz at Alaxan FR’s Showdown of the Year in UNILAB Bayanihan Center.
After facing legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao in a boxing challenge, and conversely, teaching him how to execute a proper clean and jerk, the weightlifting world champion took time to tell us about what is next for her career, her thoughts on the future of the sport, and what her vision is beyond the Olympics.
What’s up next for Hidilyn Diaz?
Right now, what everyone is looking forward to for Hidilyn Diaz, including the champion herself, is the Paris 2024 Olympics.
On her journey to make the mark to enter the next Olympics, she explained that she still has four more competitions ahead of her to qualify for a coveted slot.
As she prepares for these competitions, she shared that her training regimen includes six days of training per week, including two days of strength and conditioning. On top of this, she is also moving up a weight class, coming from the 55kg division to the 59kg division for Paris.
“Nagtaas ako ng weight, na sa 59kg ako,” Hidilyn shared. “So, medyo mahirap mag-gain ng muscle mass.”
(“I increased my weight, I’m now at 59kg. So it is a little challenging to gain muscle mass.”)
To supplement this, she explained that she is on a diet regimen and meal plan that helps her to build muscle mass, and she also stressed the importance of her strength training for this.
Beyond the Olympics
When Hidilyn Diaz accepted the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association’s Athlete of the Year award earlier this month, she vowed, “I’ll do everything I can to bring home the gold medal.”
Indeed, she has been working hard and dedicating herself to staying true to this promise.
But, Hidilyn also has a vision for herself past the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“Syempre, may plano na ako,” she told The GAME. “Baka mag-stop na ako — baka lang. Kasi, like Sir Manny, mahirap iwanan ang sport na kakasama mo na sa buhay.”
Hoping to enter her fifth Olympics, and having started the sport at only 10 years old, Hidilyn has been committed to weightlifting for 22 years now, and that commitment has led her to two Olympic medals. Now striving for what may be her last Olympic berth — emphasis on may — she has other passions that she may want to pursue after Paris.
“Plano kong magkaroon ng business, plano ko to spread weightlifting, and also farming,” she shared. “[I want to] do the things I want to do, na hindi ko magawa habang dito ako sa sport ko sa weightlifting.”
(“My plan is to start a business, to spread weightlifting, and also farming. I want to do the things I want to do that I haven’t been able to as I have been weightlifting.”)
Looking at the Philippines’ future in weightlifting
At 32 years old, and after over two decades of growing as a weightlifter, Hidilyn Diaz fully acknowledges and beams with pride over the future of the sport she loves dearly.
Reflecting on the Philippines’ representatives at the recent International Weightlifting Federation’s World Youth Championships in Albania, where all five young athletes brought home a gold medal, she expressed, “Masaya ako makita sila na nanalo ng gold medals.”
“Naipapakita natin na malakas tayong mga Filipino, at makita namin na batang malakas na up next sa amin.”
(“It makes me happy to see that they won gold medals. It shows that Filipinos are truly strong, and we can also that there are strong young athletes who will follow in our steps.”)
But, even with the growth of the sport that Hidilyn herself has both witnessed and contributed to, she admits that there is still a lot of room for improvement.
“Alam ko na marami pang place for improvement para mas lalong mag-grow ang sport, mas lalo pang magbigyan ng awareness ang sport.”
(“I know that there is still a lot of space for improvement to help the sport grow and to help bring more awareness to the sport.”)
In addition, based on her experiences, she also shares that starting from the youth level, there is still the junior and senior levels to conquer in weightlifting, and every level up becomes more of a challenge. With this, she leaves her inspiring words to the country’s weightlifting hopefuls:
“Don’t give up. Kasi nga, na sa huli ang pagsisisi. Kung ito talaga ang bagay na gusto mong gawin, do your best every day.”
(“Don’t give up because regret comes at the end. If this is something that you really want to do, then do your best every day.”