Who Is Hidilyn Diaz? More About the Filipino Weightlifter Who Made Olympic History

Major congrats are in order for Hidilyn Diaz, the weightlifter who made history at this year's Tokyo Olympics as the first Filipino to ever win an Olympic gold medal.

The 30-year-old athlete's victory garnered praise from millions of fans and Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who said in a statement, "The Palace congratulates, Hidilyn Diaz for bringing pride and glory to the Philippines for winning the country's first-ever Olympic Gold medal. Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you." Plus, to celebrate the big win, Duterte is rewarding Diaz with three million pesos ($42,000) and a brand-new home.

But now that the champion is making so many headlines, we're curious to know a bit more about her background. How did she get her start? And what's next for the history-making athlete? Keep reading for more details on Hidilyn Diaz.

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1. Who Is Hidilyn Diaz?

Diaz is a Filipino weightlifter and air force member—and believe it or not, this wasn't her first career choice. She started off by studying computer science at the University of Zamboanga for three years, but after deciding the field wasn't a good fit, she left to focus on her weight training. Clearly, this paid off, because Diaz went on to compete in several Olympic games, and she recently made history after winning the women's 55 kg category for weightlifting at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

After her big win, Diaz told Insider, "It's unbelievable, it's a dream come true. I want to say to the young generation in the Philippines: you can have this dream of gold too. This is how I started and finally I was able to do it.”

She continued, “I'm looking forward to enjoying life because I have been in Malaysia for almost two years, so I'm really thankful I can go home now and celebrate with my family and the people who support me."

2. Her Cousins Got Her Into Weightlifting At A Young Age

As it turns out, it was Diaz's cousins who inspired her to lift. According to PhilStar, Diaz would lift barbells made out of pipes with concrete weights shaped in tin cans. And over time, one of her cousins, Allen Jayfrus Diaz, decided to teach her the basics of weightlifting.

Developing a passion for the sport, Diaz set up her own gym and practiced with makeshift weights made of concrete. Before long, Diaz started to win a string of local and international competitions.

3. Diaz Is Part Of The Philippine Air Force

The weightlifter joined the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in 2013, where she was assigned to the Air Force Special Service Group. By the following year, she was promoted to the rank of Airwoman Second Class, and for her athletic achievements at the Olympics, she got bumped up to Airwoman First Class, Sergeant and, most recently, Staff Sergeant.

4. And She Might Get A Congressional Honor

Per CNN, the champion may also be getting a Philippine Senate Medal of Honor, typically awarded to “outstanding athletes, uniformed personnel, scientists and other civilians for their ‘extraordinary service and invaluable contribution to nation-building.’”

Senate President Tito Sotto III said, "Hidilyn Diaz deserves to be exalted as one of the country's most accomplished athletes after earning several medals in different international sporting events." We couldn’t agree more.

5. Diaz Is Currently In A Relationship

The athlete is now dating her coach Julius Naranjo, a filmmaker and former weightlifter who competed for Guam in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. The pair’s romance was actually featured on Philippine TV programs, including GMA Network's Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho and ABS-CBN's Magandang Buhay.

6. Is She Active On Social Media?

She sure is. Diaz is currently on Instagram as @hidilyndiaz, where she currently boasts 195,000 followers. Fans can expect to see several behind-the-scenes shots from past Olympic games, footage of her training sessions and her favorite family moments.

Keep the momentum going, Hidilyn!

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...