Every now and then during the video interview, Hidilyn Diaz would rub her hands together and exhale loudly, as if trying to relieve the building pressure of the looming Tokyo Olympics.
She shoulders a lot of the hope of a country still seeking its first Olympic gold; “The pressure is so great,” Diaz told the Inquirer’s Sport’s IQ on Friday night, deflecting expectations with a child-like smile.
There’s a reason why people are looking to her to end a nearly century-long quest. Diaz was the silver medalist in her weightlifting division during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the reigning World Cup champion. The bad news is that her division will feature China’s Liao Qiuyun, the world’s top-ranked lifter who reset records in Thailand during the recent World Championships.
The good news? According to strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, we ain’t seen nothing yet.“You [can] expect Hidilyn to lift weights that you’ve never seen before,” he said.
“She’s on track. She’s going to put on a show, I’ll tell you that. Expect to see the best Hidilyn to date.”
It’s a different Hidilyn Diaz, indeed, that will fly to Tokyo from her training base in Malaysia.
“I used to have superstitions,” the 30-year-old veteran said. “When I was young, I used to believe in many things. That you’re to wear this and that as a lucky charm.”
“But now, I have none.
“I’m more leaning towards training hard and training smart,” Diaz added.
Performance-wise, she will be competing in Tokyo backed by a full team—“Team HD,” she calls her squad.
That crew consists of Naranjo, Gao Kaiwen (weightlifting coach), Jeaneth Aro (nutritionist) and Dr. Karen Trinidad (psychologist).
She credits her team, and supporters like the MVP Sports Foundation, for keeping her in tip-top shape, focused and ready.
“You’re not just going to win by showing up,” she said. “You will have to work hard.”
And she has gave it her all in training, even getting weight issues resolved as early as April. And she hopes that all that hard work will translate into the victory everyone is hoping for. INQ
Follow Inquirer Sports’ special coverage of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 here.
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