HIDILYN Diaz is feeling too much pressure now as more and more people expect her to win the country's first-ever gold medal in her upcoming fourth Olympic appearance.
She recently qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics having competed in the women's 55kg division of the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, making her the most veteran Olympian among other Filipino elite athletes who also earned their tickets to the quadrennial Games.
Diaz, a native of Barangay Mampang in Zamboanga City, at last, won a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics after her stints in the London 2012 and Beijing 2008 editions of the Games.
Interviewed by New Day of CNN Philippines on April 21, she said, "Kahit ako ine-expect ko na kaya ko. Lahat ng tao at lahat ng Pilipino nagsasabi na kaya ko rin... Malaki ang expectation sa akin, sasabihin nila, 'O, mag gold ka!' Ine-expect ko ang expectation na medyo mataas. Mataas rin ang pressure (I also expect that I can do it. Every other Filipino would tell me that I can... The expectation is high when they tell me, 'You win the gold!' I also expected the high expectation. But that makes the pressure high as well)."
These expectations can either make or break her. We can't blame those setting their hopes up. After all, she already got an Olympic silver, right?
But she was 26 years old back then when she brought home a silver from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. Now, she's 30. I'm not saying that Diaz no longer has the "it" to win another Olympic medal or gold for that matter. I just think we need to also weigh the odds of her seeing action in Tokyo.
The strongest opponent for the women's 55kg gold medal in Tokyo Olympics would be Chinese Qiuyun Liao, who is way younger at 25 and who also captured the gold in the recently concluded Asian Championship, where Diaz placed fourth.
Liao won gold medals in all lifts in the women's 55kg of the 2019 International Weightlifting Championships World Cup held in Fuzhou, China.
She also competed in the 2019 Asian Weightlifting Championships and swept all golds in all lifts and also setting a world record in the clean and jerk with a lift of 128kg in Ningbo, China.
The Chinese ace also clinched the gold in the 2019 World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand.
Diaz's Olympic experience, however, is her greatest advantage. She has become more mature and is no doubt a veteran with 19 years of weightlifting experience.
It's too early to predict the outcome though. Diaz is set to resume her training in Malaysia. After her Uzbekistan experience, she vowed to redeem herself and apply what she learned in Tokyo.
Let's just keep praying for her and the rest of the Filipino Olympic qualifiers.