By Mark Allan Cervantes
(July 30, 2021) – There were many factors that contributed to Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal performance in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but it may have been the small intangible things that ultimately pushed her to the top.
Diaz revealed on One News’ The Chiefs on Thursday that their meticulous training for the Summer Games included a careful simulation of the competition, down to the very last detail.
“Yung naging scenario sa Olympics, pinag-training-an na namin ‘yan way before. ‘Yung damit at ‘yung sapatos na ginamit ko sa mismong Olympics, ginagamit ko na ‘yan sa training pa lang,” said Diaz.
The use of simulation is not new to the training regimen of world-class athletes, as it provides an opportunity to acclimatize to an environment that could be similar to the actual competition that will take place.
To double down on this, the pride of Zamboanga City also shared that she and her team, which she lovingly refers to as Team HD, even adapted the schedule of the Tokyo Olympics weightlifting event to their daily training.
“Naghe-heavy lift ako every Saturday before, pero pinalitan namin ng Monday, kasi Monday ang laro ko sa Olympics, kaya kailangan ganun din,” said Diaz.
The path to this year’s unprecedented edition of the quadrennial events had been difficult and unpredictable, to say the least. Lockdowns and closed training facilities forced athletes to find creative ways to proceed with their preparations. While stranded in Malaysia because of the travel ban, Diaz and Team HD immediately improvised, as they built a small home gym despite the lack of professional equipment.
For the 30-year-old Diaz, who broke the country’s 97-year gold medal drought, the most important thing was to make sure that she improved every single day.
“Every day, I’m doing my best, dapat may progress kahit one percent lang. Para pagdating sa Olympics, automatic na siya,” said Diaz.
Her discipline when it comes to her diet also played a huge part in her impressive performance. Ever wondered what food powers an Olympic gold medalist?
“Yung meal plan ko naka-align sa plans ng buong Team HD. Nakadepende siya sa kung anong training ni coach Julius (Naranjo) and coach Gao (Kaiwen). If maraming training, marami ring kanin at protein,” said Diaz with a laugh. “Sa morning, kumakain ako ng maraming itlog. May prutas din. Balanced diet talaga at pinaka-importante uminom ng maraming tubig.”
These nuances from Diaz’s preparations prove that even the best athletes need countless hours of exercising, following a strict diet, and maintaining the right mindset to achieve peak performance.
Team HD made sure Diaz will be prepared for every possible scenario in the quadrennial meet. But still, when it came to her gold-clinching lift of 127 kilograms last Monday, Diaz revealed that there was a bit of doubt that entered her mind.
“Nakita niyo na parang nagtagal ako dun (jerk), sa totoo lang kinabahan ako. Pero inisip ko lang na ‘one motion, one motion’ tapos ayun, finally nagawa ko,” said Diaz, who also set an Olympic record with her final clean and jerk attempt. “May mga time na nagbubuhat ako ng 127 sa training, pero every time natatakot ako. Iniisip ko kung worth it ba ‘to o baka ma-injure ako.”
But under the brightest of spotlights and when everything was on the line, she knew that everything she had to go through prepared her for that moment. She dug deep and made history.
“Nung time na kailangan ko na magbuhat ng 127 kg for the gold, sabi ko bahala na. Alam kong prepared ako,” said Diaz.
Performing at the top level is one thing. It’s what elite athletes do. But in the Olympics, where the best of the best competes, the tiniest of details in training can spell the difference between triumph and despair.
Diaz knew all the work she had put in, along with the entire Team HD, she has covered all the bases and now, she has a shimmering, tangible gold medal to boot. (PM)