In 2019, when Hidilyn Diaz went publicly on social media to bravely ask for financial support from private companies to help fund her Olympics stint, leading life insurer Manulife was one of those that heeded the call and signed her up as the company’s brand ambassador in the Philippines.
The partnership aimed to inspire Filipinos to work hard, believe in one’s self ― even when faced with the biggest roadblocks ― and turn challenges into life-changing opportunities.
When the pandemic struck last year, the Tokyo Olympics was postponed. Diaz thought her dream to compete and win the gold had ended. Despite the setback, the Filipino airwoman and weightlifter still did the work. In her words, translating from the Filipino vernacular, “The life of an athlete is training, training, training.” She also believed that the opportunity to represent the country had not been lost.
“Because of uncertainty brought by COVID-19, many of us developed new fears and worries. Despite this, many Filipinos have managed to keep their momentum and focus on reaching their aspirations. Hidilyn Diaz is a great example,” shared Melissa Henson, Chief Marketing Officer of Manulife Philippines.
“The gritty athlete that she is, Hidilyn maintained a positive mindset and continued to focus on her training. Her values and determination truly inspired us, and as Manulife’s brand ambassador, we know that she can inspire our fellow Filipinos to keep focused on their dreams, too,” Henson shared.
“While she had to be away from her family and put her life outside weightlifting in the back seat, her relentless preparation allowed her to qualify for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics this year, and eventually led her to win the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the Philippines. It has been such an honor to witness her incredible journey, and we are so proud of her,” Henson added.
To show their gratitude for the effort and perseverance that led her to the gold, Manulife Philippines has announced that they will be giving Hidilyn Diaz a Manulife Horizons insurance policy with lifetime coverage of Php10 million.
On her Instagram page, where she mentioned Manulife Philippines and the importance of having the right plan, Hidilyn gave a glimpse of a “day in the life on the road to the Olympics,” where her routine consisted of “eat, train, rest” and “repeat but do better tomorrow.” She also shared how “it takes a lot of work, discipline, focus and determination” to see the process through, to make the country proud and bring home the much-coveted gold.
“I thought I would never be able to fulfill my dreams because of the pandemic. But I’ve always had one goal: always aim for the gold in whatever I do in life. This is the message I want to impart to my countrymen. Despite the many challenges we are facing, what’s important is we never give up. Because in the end, we will reach our goals. Continue to fight!” said Diaz.
Before her historic and successful stint at this year’s Olympics, where she set a new Olympic record at the women’s weightlifting 55kg division, to win with a total of 224kg in her last lift in the clean and jerk, Hidilyn won silver in the 53kg class in the Rio Olympics in 2016. In Rio, she ended a 20-year Olympic medal drought for the Philippines, and gave the first non-boxing medal for the country since 1936. She also competed in the 2018 Asian Games, where she became the first-ever Filipino weightlifter of any gender to win a gold medal in the regional meet.
She is now the first Filipina weightlifter to compete in four consecutive Summer Olympic Games, having also competed in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012, where she was the Philippines’ flagbearer during the opening ceremony.
With a growing record of landmark victories, Diaz is excited to see what’s in store for her in the future. In fact, she has also been thinking about her retirement plans.
“For sure, people have askd me what’s next? Setting goals and having a plan are important to secure my family’s future. Savings and insurance are the answer! I know I can’t compete forever, so I am saving bit by bit,” she posted on Instagram.
Diaz has demonstrated the importance of creating new beginnings and restarting plans to live the life you want. Armed with more passion, grit, and love for the sport and country, the 30-year-old Olympic champion will surely keep beating the odds -- lifting herself and others up along the way -- and proving that when one works hard and takes charge of their future, anything is possible.