Asia

Hidilyn Diaz biography: 13 things about Philippines’ 1st Olympic gold medalist

Hidilyn Francisco Diaz is a Filipino weightlifter and airwoman. Born in Zamboanga City, Philippines, she is the fifth among the six children of Eduardo Diaz and Emelita Francisco Diaz.

Hidilyn is 4’11” tall and her registered weight is 121 lbs. Here are 13 more things about her:

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  1. Raised in Mampang, Zamboanga City, she played basketball and volleyball when she was young. She studied computer science at the Universidad de Zamboanga in Zamboanga City but left the university after her third year to focus on weightlifting.
  2. In 2002, her cousin Allen Jayfrus Diaz started teaching her the basics of weightlifting using concrete weights shaped in tin cans and homemade barbells made with plastic pipes.
  3. She competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics, which was held in Beijing, China from August 8-24, 2008, making her first female weightlifter to represent the Philippines in the Olympics. She ranked 11th among 12 weightlifters after lifting 85-kg in the snatch and 107-kg in the clean and jerk for a 192-kg total.
  4. She competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics, which was held in London, England, United Kingdom from July 27, 2012 to August 12, 2012, making her the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in two consecutive Olympics. She ranked 12th among 19 competitors in her event.
  5. In 2013, she was recruited into the Philippine Air Force (PAF) through the military arm’s direct enlistment program and given an Air Force Specialty Code skill in recreation in weightlifting.
  6. In 2014, the PAF promoted her from the rank of airwoman to airwoman second class.
  7. In June 2015, she won gold in the inaugural Southeast Asian Weightlifting Championship in Bangkok, Thailand. On November 22, 2015, she won three bronze medals for the clean, jerk and snatch events in the 53 kg division of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Weightlifting Championship held in Houston, Texas, United States, which gave her a spot for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  8. She won the silver medal in the women’s 53kg weightlifting category in the 2016 Summer Olympics, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5-21, 2016. For this achievement, the PAF promoted her to the rank of airwoman first class.
  9. In January 2017, she received a scholarship to study business management at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in Manila, Philippines. In 2018, she went on a leave of absence to prepare for the 2020 Summer Olympics, which was later postponed due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  10. She won the gold medal in the women’s 53kg weightlifting event in the 2018 Asian Games, which was held in Indonesia from August 18, 2018 to September 2, 2018, making her the first Filipino weightlifter to win gold in the Asian Games. In September 2018, she and her boyfriend Julius Irvin Naranjo, a Guam-based Filipino-Japanese weightlifter, were featured in an episode of the Filipino television show “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho.”
  11. On December 2, 2019, she won gold in the women’s weightlifting 55-kg division in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila, Philippines. It was the first time her parents watched her compete in a weightlifting event live.
  12. She won the gold medal in the women’s 55kg event at the Roma 2020 World Cup, which was held in Rome, Italy from January 27-31, 2020. When she was stuck in Malaysia amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, she called Malaysian Weightlifting Federation deputy president Ahmad Janius Abdullah and asked for a place to train. He took her to his mother-in-law’s house in Kampung Kesang, Jasin, Melaka, Malaysia where she stayed and trained from September 2020 to July 18, 2021.
  13. She finished fourth in the 55kg category in the 2020 Asian Weightlifting Championships, which was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from April 16-25, 2021. She was 30 years old when she won the gold medal in the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition at the 2021 Summer Olympics on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan by defeating China’s Liao Qiuyun. It was the first time a Filipino athlete won a gold medal in the Olympics. Her team included Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro, sports psychologist Karen Trinidad and Naranjo as her strength and conditioning coach.

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