How Hidilyn’s teeny-tiny habits led to an Olympic gold

THE LITERAL distance between the second place to the top of the podium is less than a meter high. But for Hidilyn Diaz, who had achieved silver in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games, the grueling journey to finally land on it took nearly half a decade of work.

With the help of the Team HD, she finally achieved it in the recent 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Diaz did not only achieve her personal goal as an athlete, but also brought the Philippines its greatest glory yet in the quadrennial meet.

Relentless body strengthening was always part of the equation, but what really turned the tables for Hidilyn is something we would only ever get a glimpse of.

It was the day-by-day tiny changes. No massive action.

"It's just one percent of doing my best everyday, just one percent. Ito lang hanggang maging automatic na siya," Diaz shared during Under the Armour, a mini webinar on mental health conducted by athletic brand Under Armour.


Hidilyn Diaz psychologist: 'Smallest things have the biggest impact'

Team HD's sports psychologist, Dr. Karen Trinidad, shared that it was the system they used from the get-go.

"We just start with the smallest things, with building habits. Then it becomes a lifestyle. In the case of Hidilyn, kunwari I will make her do something for 21 days until masanay. Then from there, it leads to behavior," she said.

"It's the smallest things that have the biggest impact."

With enough self-discipline, the 30-year-old Olympic gold medalist was able to power through to make it to the top in a span of five years.

The same strategy was also used by Team HD inside the Tokyo International Forum.

When her competitor Liao Qiuyun of China lifted 118kg in her first attempt, the Filipina did 119kg. Then, when the Chinese went for a 123kg, Diaz answered with a 124kg.

Finally for her last lift in the clean and jerk, Liao managed a hefty 126kg. Team HD answered with 127kg to clinch gold and post a new Olympic record.

That time, Diaz shared, her mind's focused on nothing else but to lift.

"Wala akong ibang iniisip kundi one motion, one motion. Magbuhat lang," she said.

Dr. Trinidad continued: "Ang sinasabi ko lang sa kanya, 'You can and you are prepared.' One lift at a time. Don't think of the next."

These very small improvements they initiated since day one have grown into remarklable results for Team HD.

"Hidi challenged her mind to push herself at least one percent everyday. That's it," the sports psychologist added.

They've won the game, and they're going to continue play it, still, guided by the same principle of marginal gains.

"Retirement? Opinyon nila na after winning gold, gusto nila ko mag-retire. But again, athlete ako, hindi ako sumusuko dahil nananalo na 'ko, susuko lang ako 'pag di na kaya ng katawan ko," Diaz said.


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