Hidilyn Francisco Diaz (born 20 February 1991) is a Filipino weightlifter and airwoman. She competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics where she was the youngest competitor in the women's 58-kg category. She was a bronze medalist in the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand and achieved 10th place at the 2006 Asian Games in the 53-kilogram class. And while a student of the Universidad de Zamboanga representing her university, she won two golds and one silver in the Asian Youth/Junior Weightlifting Championship held in Jeonju, South Korea.
In the 2016 Summer Olympics, Diaz won the silver medal in the women's 53-kg weight division, ending the Philippines' 20-year Olympic medal drought. She is also the first Filipino woman to win an Olympic medal of any color.
Early life and education
Hidilyn Diaz is the fifth of six children of Eduardo and Emelita Diaz. Her cousin, Allen Jayfrus Diaz, taught her the basics of weightlifting.
She attended the Universidad de Zamboanga where she pursued a bachelor's degree in computer science. However, Diaz stopped attending the university as a third year irregular student as she found her degree unsuitable for her. She also claimed that it distracted her training. After her stint in the 2016 Olympics, Diaz decided to continue her tertiary education and intended to pursue a degree related to sports in Manila.
In January 2017, Diaz received a scholarship to study business management at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
2008 Summer Olympics
Diaz was selected as a wild card entry to the Summer Olympics by the Philippine Weightlifting Association in early 2008. She is the first female weightlifter to compete for the Philippines in the Olympics, and the second weightlifter overall (the first being her coach, Ramon Solis). Competing in the women's 58-kg class, 17-year-old Diaz lifted 85-kg in the snatch and 107-kg in the clean and jerk for a 192-kg total, breaking the Philippine record that she herself set at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games. Although she placed second to last in a field of 12 weightlifters, her performance was praised and considered promising for her age. Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez once commented that she competed there to gain valuable experience and predicted that she would be a strong contender in future competitions.
2012 Summer Olympics
Diaz became the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in consecutive Olympics, by qualifying in the women's weightlifting under 58 kg through the Continental and World Qualifying Tournaments. She was ranked ninth in her event heading to the Olympics. During the 2012 London Olympics, Diaz was chosen to be the flagbearer during the Opening Ceremony.
She was coached by Tony Agustin, and they projected a 225 kg lift, above her personal best of 219 kg. She successfully lifted a personal best of 97 kg in the snatch, 12th best among the 19 competitors. However her 118 kg Clean and Jerk was unsuccessful after three attempts. She is one of two competitors (along with Lina Rivas of Colombia) to end with an official result of "Did not finish" (DNF) in the event.
Hidilyn Diaz weighed around 56.28 kg during her first Olympic campaign, making her the lightest among competitors. Come 2012 Olympics, Hidilyn Diaz increased her weight to 57.70 kg but still struggled making it to the top half of the competition. Trying to improve her chances of landing a podium finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Diaz decided to drop weight from under 58 kg to under 53 kg. This proved to be effective as she recently snatched the Gold Medal in the 1st Southeast Asian Weightlifting Championship in Bangkok. She managed to lift a 98 kg snatch and a 115 kg clean and jerk for a 213 kg total. The same mark is good for 4th place in the 2012 London Olympics.
Diaz also earned three bronze medals for the clean, jerk and snatch events in the 53 kg division of the IWF World Weightlifting Championship held in Houston, Texas on November 22, 2015 to claim a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
On March 2016, Diaz dominated the women's 58 kg event of the 2015-16 Philippine National Games National Finals held at Lingayen Town Plaza, Lingayen, Pangasinan, with a 92 kg snatch and 120 kg clean and jerk (new personal best) combined into 212 kg.
2016 Summer Olympics
In the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Diaz competed in the women's 53kg weightlifting category with the intention of at least winning a bronze medal. Diaz surpassed her own personal target and won the silver medal at the event, after successfully clinching a lift of 88 kg in her second attempt in snatch event (placed 6th) and 111 kg and 112 kg in the first and second attempts in the clean and jerk event (placed 2nd). This was the first medal for the Philippines in the Summer Olympics after 20 years. This was also the first non-boxing medal for the nation since 1936. Aside from being the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in three consecutive Olympics, she also became the first Filipino woman and first Mindanaoan to win an Olympic medal.
On August 8, 2016, she returned to her hometown, Zamboanga City and was welcomed as a Hero of the City, She also received numerous incentives from the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, Philippine Sports Commission and her local city.
2018 Asian Games
Diaz participated in the Women's 53 kilogram (kg) weightlifting event in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Diaz had a total lift of 207kg, beating Turkmenistan’s Kristina Shermetova(206kg) and Thailand’s Surodchana Khambao (201kg) to deliver the Philippines' first gold in the 2018 games.
Diaz was recruited into the Philippine Air Force (PAF) through the military arm's Direct Enlistment Program in 2013. She was initially assigned to the Air Force Special Service Group. She was also given an Air Force Specialty Code skill in recreation in weightlifting. In 2014, she was given a promotion from the rank of Airwoman to Airwoman Second Class. Diaz was also a recipient of a Military Merit Medal for organizing PAF events and a Presidential Citation Unit Badge. When Diaz was training for her stint at the 2016 Summer Olympics, she was assigned to PAF Personnel Management Center on a temporary basis. For her achievement at the Olympics, she was given a promotion by the PAF. The extent of the promotion was initially not disclosed but it was later reported that Diaz was promoted to the rank of Airwoman First Class. Following Diaz's stint in the 2018 Asian Games, she was promoted to Airwoman Sergeant.
In popular media
Diaz' life was portrayed in an episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya, a drama anthology series, on September 24, 2016. She was portrayed by Jane Oineza.
Awards and recognitions
On February 13, 2017, Diaz was awarded as the Athlete of the Year of the Philippine Sportswriters Association.