Hidilyn copes with pressure

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Hidilyn copes with pressure
Hidilyn Diaz
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The expectation is high for women’s 55 kilogram weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz to capture a gold in the Tokyo Olympics but she’s learned to cope with the pressure, staying connected with God, doing yoga to stave off stress and building mental toughness in weekly on-line sessions conducted by PSC sports psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad.

Diaz, 30, said competing without pressure would be boring. “Accept ko ang pressure to go for gold,” she said in a recent PlayItRight TV interview. “I tell myself I can do it. In my first Olympics in 2008, I was 17, I didn’t know what to expect, it was like the opening of a door. Then, in 2012, I realized I had a chance although I didn’t do well. In 2016, I felt I was finally in class and took the silver. This year, in Tokyo, I’m like a Dean’s Lister in my graduation.”

Diaz has come a long way since lifting in the 58 kilogram division in 2008 and 2012, dropping to 53 in 2016 and now moving up to 55. “At 58, I still ate fast food and drank soft drinks,” she related. “At 53, I dieted and ate salads. Now at 55, I can keep my strength and maintain, thanks to my nutritionist Jeaneth (Aro).” In the Asian Olympic qualifiers in Uzbekistan last April, Diaz finished fourth with a total lift of 212 kilograms, 94 in snatch and 118 in clear-and-jerk. She was one kilogram shy of equalling Uzbek bronze medalist Muattar Nabieva’s carry and 10 below Chinese first-placer Liao Qiuyun. Diaz said she wasn’t at her best, coming off a 15-month layoff from competition and battled nerves but at hindsight, it was a positive result since her performance exposed what to work on in training.

After Tokyo, Diaz said she’ll concentrate on earning her degree at St. Benilde then resume training for the SEA and Asian Games before making a decision on whether or not to seek a fifth Olympic stint in Paris in 2024. If she goes to Paris, Diaz will tie shooter Martin Gison for the most Olympic appearances by a Philippine athlete. Diaz said making history as the first Filipina to compete in four Olympics is significant but she considers carrying the flag in the 2012 opening parade a proud highlight of her sports career. “Iba yung feeling na daladala mo ang ating bandila na nagwawagayway,” she said.


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