Hidilyn: Never Again

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FOUR consecutive Olympic campaign and a number of Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games stints. And of course, that Tokyo Olympics gold medal to top it all.

Hidilyn Diaz’s been there, done that and doing this, especially in life.

Diaz, now 30 and whose humble beginnings lead everyone to quaint Barangay Mampang in Zamboanga City, has learned her lessons, not only with steel plates thrice heavier than her, but in life.

“I was scammed before…victimized many times in what could be the worst investment an athlete shouldn’t make,” Diaz told an online press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“But it’s not all about choosing where to invest your hard-earned peso, but also as important are the people around.”

Diaz didn’t go down to specifics on the “scam,” but gave everyone a hint.

“I wasted my time on the wrong person who doesn’t believe in me,” Diaz said. “You have to fill your surroundings with good people who will help you achieve your goal.”

Diaz was a wild card entry, an innocent-looking 18-year-old, when she made her Olympic debut in 2008. She returned in London 2012 and was DQed (disqualified) for missing her attempts.

Two Olympics and a lot of lessons learned.

Come 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Diaz had the gold medal within reach, but it wasn’t her time yet and settled for a silver medal. With it came a windfall of incentives that were already worth millions.

“Always dream high and don’t let others belittle you which I experienced as a probinsyana,” she said. “That’s why I dream high.”

The dream became a reality in Tokyo and Diaz ended the country’s quest for a first Olympic gold medal. Then the gate valves opened like a humongous dam and Diaz could now be worth P100 million after receiving multi-million cash incentives, two houses and lots, a posh condominium unit, several vehicles and numerous endorsements.

Diaz is completing her Business Management course at College of Saint Benilde and bated that she wanted to go into either a restaurant business, café hotel or AirBnB—all of which would be ranking behind her ultimate dream, the Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Sports Academy she intends to build in Mampang.

“I am thankful for all the blessings but I have to spend my earnings wisely,” she said. “I also need to think about what’s the best business for me.”

Diaz, perhaps the richest Filipino athlete outside of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and professional basketball players, has learned her lessons well and has gotten herself a financial adviser.

“I have to learn more with the help of BDO,” said Diaz, who added that she entrusted her investments and financial decisions to BDO Unibank, the country’s largest banking company. “Ninety percent of my earnings and pledges are in a private bank and I have a financial adviser from the BDO who is helping me now.”

A sound mind in an extremely strong body. That’s Diaz now.

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