I am definitely not a huge sports fan. And the only time I was probably excited about the Olympics was three years ago, when a US Navy stationed in Okinawa (or someplace else) invited me to come visit for the event. Of course I met someone else (ironically with the same name as his) and we lost touch.
I think I have heard the news last year (or assumed) that it was canceled because of the pandemic. Since I am in a voluntary news blackout, it was not until I started seeing Facebook posts about the Olympics that I have found out it is on. And of course, last night, history was made when Hidilyn Diaz wins Philippines’ first Olympic gold medal with weightlifting.
I see a lot of posts about this momentous event in social media, most of which are political and social in nature. I am aware of the national pride and the much-needed respite from all the unpleasantness the 30-year old athlete has brought in the country. I myself, have been writing about how I was feeling down lately, and hearing her story lifted my spirits up somehow.
To say that I am impressed is an understatement. One, she is 7 years younger than I am and has achieved so much already. Two, she is 54.90 kg who lifted a total of 224 kg. I am 44 kg and my back hurts whenever my 20 kg daughter would “climb up” in my arms. Three, she is just so awesome and I am so lame. Seriously, I could not even keep up 30 min of abs workout or zumba. She may be passionate about her craft, but I am sure her journey to gold has not been an easy feat.
Mental and emotional strength
Evidently, Hidilyn Diaz’ physical strength is unquestionable—but throughout her journey, the weightlifter has also proven mental and emotional toughness, overcoming numerous obstacles that nearly broke her spirit.
Diaz faced a devastating loss at the 2012 London Olympics, where her efforts resulted in a shattering “Did Not Finish” after three failed clean and jerk attempts. Recounting this experience with Tatler, she intimated “My failure was so public. I was trolled online and bashed in the media, and although it was hard for me, it was more for my family.” Diaz continued, saying “I didn’t feel shame; I was just hurt because I love my country and would do everything for it. I did question if I deserved that kind of treatment but I continued to love and serve the Philippines.”
As the athlete prepared for her momentous return at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Diaz suffered a major injury. “At that point, I thought that there was no way I could win in the Olympics or even go back to weightlifting. I felt like I was a loser, a failure, that I was empty and with no purpose or direction in my life”, she told Tatler.
Most recently, Diaz confronted financial challenges that threatened her gold medal dream. Disclosing these difficulties with Tatler, she says “Training for the Olympics is gruelling and needs funding. We need to find the money to train and compete abroad, for accommodations, airfare, food and everything else”. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic stranded the weightlifter in Malaysia , forcing her to train for the games away from her family.
Despite these mental and emotional strains, Diaz continued to overcome these challenges and come out on top – “Weightlifting makes me strong physically, but also mentally and emotionally, and allows me to face these challenges head-on”, she beams proudly. Fresh off her latest victory, she told AFP “I’m looking forward to going back home to the Philippines to be with my family because I really miss them […] I’m looking forward now to enjoy my life after so many sacrifices.”https://hk.asiatatler.com/society/hidilyn-diaz-5-things-you-should-know
Thank you, Hidilyn, for reminding me that the road to success takes time and a lot of sacrifices. Failing sometimes is ok, too, what is imperative is having the will to not give up and continue fighting. It took her 13 years to make history, shall I just think of my 2021 as her 2008 and look forward to bagging gold too sometime in 2034? Hey! I will be 50 then, my target retirement age. Somehow it feels like everything is right in the world again (in case you missed it, there is a bit of a sarcasm here), at least tonight it is.
How has the young gold-medalist inspired you?
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