Taking a deep breath on the sidelines as she awaits her turn, Olympic weightlifter, active member of the Philippine Air Force and Generation T honouree Hidilyn Diaz clutches tightly at her Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Mother. It was a reminder of all the people praying for her and of knowing that God is always with her especially now. As she stepped onto the crimson stage, the voice of her strength and conditioning coach, Julius Naranjo, rang through her mind: “One motion, chest out, one motion.”
One motion, one extra kilogramme and immeasurable determination are what it took for Diaz to stand victorious. By lifting 97 kilogrammes in snatch and 127 kilogrammes in the clean-and-jerk, setting an Olympic record in the process, she beat China’s Liao Quiyun with a total of 224 kilogrammes, bringing home the Philippines’ first-ever gold medal.
“I was not thinking of the Olympic record, I was not thinking of a medal; I was just focusing on the movement—one motion, chest out,” shares the 30-year-old champion. “I was never able to lift 127 kilogrammes in the clean-and-jerk before. I have tried but never could.” That day she did. With an entire nation cheering her on, in one seamless movement, Diaz made history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Her path to this momentous achievement was not without its challenges. While representing the country in the 2012 London Olympics, she received a devastating “Did Not Finish” after three unsuccessful attempts in her clean-and-jerk. In a past interview with Tatler Philippines, Diaz expressed that she felt like “there was no way I could win in the Olympics or even go back to weightlifting. I felt like I was a loser, a failure, that I was empty and with no purpose or direction in my life”.
This could not have been farther from the truth. Picking herself up with grace, along with much sacrifice and perseverance, Diaz took home silver in Rio 2016 and continued to keep her eye on the prize. After years of training for Tokyo 2020, she was finally feeling prepared—then the pandemic hit. “Every day, we live in anxiety,” she says. “When I found out they postponed the Olympics, the athlete in me was like—what now? I’ve already given my everything.” Despite the constant fear of falling ill and logistical difficulties, Diaz never wavered. Separated from her loved ones, stuck in Malaysia due to international travel restrictions with no open gyms available, she continued to train using bamboo sticks, water bottles and weighted bags. “I’m so grateful the Olympics pushed through. I’m so grateful we made it and we were able to bring home that gold medal for the Philippines.”
Adding more weight to the win, is the fact that the only Olympic gold medal the country has ever won was achieved by a woman. “This is so significant for me, that I was able to prove that we women can do this. Kaya ng Filipina, kaya ng Filipino [The Filipina can, the Filipino can],” Diaz declares. “I am so proud to be a woman, to show that women are not just capable of being at home, that we are proficient in sports, that we can succeed in anything—while wearing lipstick too!”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Seat of Power
The latest member of the 5-series, BMW 520i Sport, highlights precision in driving dynamics and a powerful engine
The Breakthrough Star
Fashion designer Michael Cinco tells Tatler what it takes to be at the forefront of the fashion industry, the obstacles and triumphs he’s been through, and how he has overcome them to become one of the leading international Filipino designers today
Strokes of Genius
Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli has long been beloved for pushing fashion forward with his magical yet meaningful couture. This season, he transcends the craft with the help of 16 contemporary artists
Moving Art After 45 years of showcasing modern and contemporary art at its location by the bay, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila moves nearer the centre of the metropolis to begin a new chapter at the Bonifacio Global City
Making a Statement
South Korean painter Wonhee “Whee” Delgado finds an artistic niche for her riveting work
While the rest of the world shut down, many members of Paris’s fashion elite refused to let the pandemic get in the way of a good time
We say goodbye to photography master Raymund Isaac, whose daring style and eye for beauty captured our hearts
Damned, Dominant and Downright Different
Jeremiah Tower, considered by many to be the first ever celebrity chef, started a revolution and got not much reverence for it
More friends recall their fond memories of Tatler as they congratulate the magazine for two solid decades of bringing power, style and impact
ASIA'S MOST INFLUENTIAL: STYLE
STYLE IS AN EXPRESSION OF THE IMAGINATION
MR. OLYMPIA FAT-LOSS STACK
JAW TRAINING FOR STRIKERS
NEWS FLASH: FIGHTERS GET PUNCHED IN THE JAW! THE JAW AND ITS HINGES, ALONG WITH THE CHIN, ARE COMMON TARGETS FOR KNOCKOUT ARTISTS. A WELL-PLACED PUNCH TO THE JAW CAN RENDER AN OTHERWISE TREMENDOUSLY CONDITIONED ATHLETE UNCONSCIOUS IN A HEARTBEAT.
5 EXPERT TIPS
HOW TO RACE IN LIGHT WINDS WITH TIDE
Maybe it’s the one-year delay. Maybe it’s the global pandemic that caused that delay and lends these Olympics more significance than any in recent memory. Or perhaps it’s the fresh energy of new events. Regardless, now—finally—is the time to learn about the athletes and sports the whole world will soon be watching.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Simone Biles leads Team USA to Tokyo—finally—for the Summer Olympics. Here’s your guide to the most compelling competitors going for gold in your favorite sports
I thought I knew my father well: his devotion to family, his solid faith. A slip of paper in a forgotten Bible revealed more
THE PEOPLE'S CHAMP
TOPPS’ ONLINE SET LOOKS AT LEGEND’S LIFE, CAREER AND LEGACY
COVID-19 PANDEMIC CHANGING INDUSTRY CONFERENCES & EVENTS
The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world and many industries and businesses.
Do the Olympics really need an audience?
With a $5.9 billion budget and a decade of planning behind it, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo had been expected to draw 11,000 of the world’s elite athletes and more than 600,000 tourists when it starts in late July.
“WE ARE ALIVE BECAUSE OF STORY. IT IS ONE OF OUR ANCESTORS’ MOST POWERFUL TECHNOLOGIES. AND WE ARE ALL STORYTELLERS. A STORY IS AN ENERGY, AND LIKE THE WALLS OF JERICHO, MAYBE IF WE PUT ENOUGH OF OUR STORIES OUT THERE, INTO THE AIR, THE WALLS WILL START FALLING; THEY ARE ALREADY CRACKING.” —NATALIE DIAZ, WHOSE NEW BOOK, POSTCOLONIAL LOVE POEM, WILL BE OUT IN MARCH FROM GRAYWOLF PRESS.