Can Diaz lift Weightlifting gold at Ashgabat 2017?
When Hidilyn Diaz won a weightlifting silver in the women’s 53kg category at the 2016 Olympic Games she was catapulted to superstar status in her native Philippines.
The medal ended a 20-year Olympic drought suffered by the country’s weightlifters and it has since reinvigorated a sport which is now enjoying a resurgence.
In the months since her remarkable achievement, a scholarship programme has been created in her name with the goal of ensuring the country continues to develop world-class lifters.
The 26-year-old remains committed to her sport and has been preparing hard for Ashgabat 2017 in September.
“It’s hard as I am training close to 11 sessions a week which includes three times a week for strength and conditioning,” said Diaz, who returned to competitive training back in January.
To ensure she will be at the top of her game for the Games, Diaz who recently returned to college to complete her degree, has reduced her study time this semester to free up more time for the gym.
“I am doing six hours on a Friday at college and the rest of the days I dedicate to my training,” said the 2015 Asian Weightlifting Champion.
Winning the Olympic silver medal has brought with it some considerable responsibilities with public appearances and pleasing her adoring public proving just as challenging as her training schedule.
But she is loving the experience and showed that she has a wise head on her young shoulders by investing some of her Olympic reward money into a new gymnasium which is set to open on August 7.
“My dream will be fulfilled once it opens,” she said.
The Hidilyn Weightlifting Scholarship programme was launched by the Philippine Weightlifting Association in June and will make money available for up to five students with the potential to become future world-class athletes from the age of 10. There has also been a national weightlifting competition launched in her name.
At just 1.49m tall, Diaz will be one of the shortest athletes taking part in Ashgabat 2017, but with a personal best lift of 223kg, few doubt that she will be walking tall come September.
Weightlifting is one of 21 sports taking place at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and will be held over eight days from 18–25 September with 16 gold medals up for grabs. The sport will be hosted in the Weightlifting Arena.