And worth following in our own journey toward success

The Olympics is over and the hype of winning four medals for the Philippines is already waning. But this episode has already earned a page in our history books because it’s the year we finally took home gold after 97 years of trying. That it was achieved by a female athlete, Hidilyn Diaz, in a male-dominated sport of weightlifting is an inspiring detail to add to this page.

Other things that made this historic win memorable are the gifts and cash rewards, which all amount to an eight-figure total, that Hidilyn received. But forget about these millions. She herself said that all the prize money came as a bonus because she dreamed for something bigger, for something more valuable than any material: to bring honor to the Philippines.

Indeed, her historic win lifted the spirit of the people during these challenging times. She serves as an inspiration to Filipinos, especially to the youth, which she aims to inspire the most and she challenges to see continuing her legacy. But what else can we learn from her Olympic journey? What attitudes or values should we also have have to reach our goal?

Here are 11 lessons from Hidilyn that are worth emulating.

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz (AFP)
  1. Dream.

When Hidilyn was younger, she had wanted to work in a bank to help her family with their financial needs. But her life took a turn when her cousin Allen Diaz introduced her to weightlifting. She was only 11 years old then. The sport, which she used to practice using only homemade barbells, changed her dream. It became bigger than just her ambition of giving her family a good life. Her dream then included wanting to bring honor to her country..

Success always starts from a dream. As they say, it’s free to dream—so why not dream big?

  1. Focus.

When Hidilyn competed in her first Olympics at age 17, she had her sights on one goal: Getting gold for the Philippines. Her mind was fixed toward one direction. Her mind was focused on one objective, even if it had meant sacrificing a lot. She was so determined she din’t let personal matters interfere with her training.

When we are focused, we do things that are necessary to meet our goal. From there, we will get a clear picture of how good our future could be.

  1. Discipline.

In one of Hidilyn’s Instagram posts, she shared her daily routine – eat, train, rest. Strictly following such a schedule and diet takes a lot of discipline. She ignored her cravings and the things she felt like doing just to be the best in what she does.

Discipline is the foundation of every athlete. But athlete or not, discipline is an important key to succeed in life. It pushes us to do what we ought to and not whatever we feel like doing.

  1. Determination.

The determination of the 30-year-old weightlifter was immeasurable. It pushed her over the limit. Despite difficulties along the way, she was determined to train and win. Even the lockdown in Malaysia last year due to the pandemic didn’t shake her willpower. When she had no access to the gym, she trained with improvised equipment to get prepared.

Determination is so important because it enables us to persist when faced with hardships.

Hidilyn practices with an improvised barbell, made of bamboo sticks and gallons of water while on lockdown in Malaysia last year
  1. Perseverance.

The journey to the Tokyo Olympics wasn’t all a smooth ride for the 2018 Asian Games gold medalist. She was second to the last in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, DNF (did-not-finish) in the 2012 London Olympics, and silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Coming up short in getting gold in previous Olympic games didn’t stop her, however. She persevered. Despite the lack of finances, she continued training. Despite being red-tagged by the government, she didn’t quit. Despite the pandemic, she preserved.

Her story shows that when odds are seemingly against us, perseverance is an ally we can tap not to give up.

  1. Hard Work.

Success didn’t come overnight for the four-time Olympian. Behind her two Olympic gold medals are years of hard work. In her Instagram posts, you’ll see how she puts great effort mentally and physically every training day. In fact, when she was just starting, she broke a barbell after practicing hard with it for a local weightlifting competition. She may not be breaking barbells now, but her wounded and calloused palms remain proof of just how hard working Hidilyn is.

Her story is another living testament to the cliché, “No pain, no gain.” Indeed, she has proved that hard work doesn’t just beat talent, it also begets success.

  1. Love.

As a female weightlifter, Hidilyn had to face insecurities and self-doubt. She was insecure about her body image. But a knee injury in 2014 made her appreciate even more her toned muscles, which give her strength to endure the physical pain. From then on, she learned to love her body more—the way she loves weightlifting.

Loving yourself is a must. And loving what you what you do even more is a manifestation of self-love, which plays an important role in reaching your dreams.

Team HD: With Hidily Diaz (center), strengthening and conditioning coach Julius Narnajo, sports nutritionist Jeaneth Aro, sports psychologist Karen Trinidad, and head coach Gao Kaiwen (Photo from Hidilyn Diaz Instagram)
  1. Cooperation.

Even though weightlifting involves one player on the stage, Hidilyn worked with a team. Behind her success is a group of coaches: Gao Kaiwen, Julius Narnajo, Jeaneth Aro, and Karen Trinidad. As a very cooperative athlete, she has learned to trust, listen, and obey her team of coaches. They are the ones who pushed her to believe in herself. She admitted that without them, she wouldn’t have achieved this level of victory.

In life, we need to be a teamplayer, because the reality is we will be working with other people to achieve success.

  1. Patriotism.

Laban para sa bayan (Fight for our country)!” the Philippine Air Force (PAF) staff sergeant always says. Ever since she joined the Olympics, she made it clear that her fight was not for her alone. More than her aspiration to make us Filipinos proud, she wanted to give honor to the Philippines.

Sometimes, that’s what we lack in our dreams, dedicating success to our beloved country, even just a portion. We should realize that getting big or small success would always make a difference for our nation.

  1. Humility.

Hidilyn has left an indelible mark in history and yet she remains humble by owing her victory to her team, to the people that supported her, and above all, to God. Accepting she’s not alone in the battle and she needs help to learn more is simply an authentic display of humility. Even asking for financial support two years ago for her training is also a manifestation of this virtue.

This just shows that we can be on top even if we keep our feet planted firmly on the ground.

A devout Catholic, Hidlyn Diaz shows her gold medal and Our Lady’s Miraculous medallion
  1. Faith.

Hidilyn may have doubted herself, but she never doubted God. “Grabe si God!” she said repeatedly after she won the gold. Hidilyn credited her historic win to God and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to the devout Catholic, she surrendered herself to God before lifting the 127kg barbell, which she had never lifted in her training. Days before the Olympics, she prayed a novena to Mother Mary. After winning, she thanked God and lifted up Our Lady’s Miraculous Medal. Hidilyn didn’t just use her physical strength but also her great faith in getting the first-ever Olympic gold for our country.

Among other things, Hidilyn proves that nothing is impossible with God.

Source: Manila Bulletin (