Filipinos rejoiced after news broke out that Hidilyn Diaz, a Zamboanga native, seized the silver medal in the women’s 53-kg weightlifting division of the Rio Olympics, becoming the first female athlete to win an Olympic medal for the Philippines.
But prior to Rio, Hidilyn competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and was also the youngest competitor in the women’s 58-kg category. Although she placed second to last in a field of 12 weightlifters, her performance was praised and considered promising for her age which at that time was 17.
During the 2012 London Olympics, Diaz was chosen to be the flag-bearer during the Opening Ceremony. 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.
She was a bronze medalist in the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand and achieved the 10th place at the 2006 Asian Games in the 53-kilogram class.
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 22nd November 2015, to claim a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
On March 2016, Diaz dominated the women’s 58kg 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.
A student of the Universidad de Zamboanga, she also won two golds and one silver in the Asian Youth/Junior Weightlifting Championship held in Jeonju, South Korea.
Diaz received a house and lot and P5 million cash as incentives from the government.