Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history when she became the first Filipina athlete to win a medal at the Summer Olympics. Hidilyn, 30, competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and brought home the silver medal in the women's 53-kg weight division. She is also a gold medalist in the 2018 Asian Games and is considered the first Filipino weightlifter to ever win gold in the competition.
Currently, Hidilyn is deep in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was moved to July 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from training, the Olympic athlete is—like many college students—currently enduring the hardships of online classes as a Business Management major at De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde.
On what being a student-athlete is like for an Olympian
Ever wondered what online classes are like for an Olympic athlete? It's not much different from every other student's experience, TBH. "Ang hirap niya kasi last year siguro yung school and yung teachers, naga-adapt din," shares Hidilyn with Candy during a conversation with Summit Media editors. "So mahirap sa aming mga student na parang yung online classes nagiging self-study, lalong-lalo na 'pag ang pinag-aaralan mo ay Accounting. Last year kasi parang, nape-pressure ka [na] sa training, nape-pressure ka rin sa Accounting."
A year into remote learning, Hidilyn seems to have adapted well and is still very appreciative of the things she learns in class. "So good thing pasado naman. Pero mas gusto ko ngayon kasi more on naa-apply ko sa daily life, maa-apply ko pagdating sa after ng career ko as an athlete kasi it's about taxation, labor, relationships. So mas gusto ko ngayon, mas exciting, mas planado ngayon."
Online class in itself is already draining and college students would know the struggle. What probably made the Olympic medalist's work load heavier is the fact that she had to balance her training as a professional athlete with her academic commitments. "Ako rin, last year, medyo nahihirapan. Parang ang hirap naman nito kasi kailangan ko mag-aral, kailangan ko magbasa, ang daming slides na [kailangan] basahin, ang daming research paper."
Pro-tips for student-athletes
One of the many admirable things about student-athletes who thrive in both fields is their work ethic. For Hidilyn, a lot of it has to do with being transparent with both your coaches and your professors about your commitments so they know what to expect from you. As a tip for student-athletes hoping to find balance between acads and sports, the Olympic athlete advises, "Tell your coaches na, 'Coach, mage-enroll po ako. Sana maintindihan niyo, may mga time na male-late ako.' Kasi kahit na nandito sa bahay yung gym, minsan nale-late ako kasi ang daming quiz, ang daming gano'n. Pero first, you have to let your coaches know. Second, you have to let your teacher know na student-athlete ka."
Another tip from Hidilyn is to make sure you're always aware of your schedule. "Then siguro as a student-athlete, kailangan na may calendar, may schedule ka. Iba-block mo yung schedule mo tapos ilalagay mo dun kung may mga quizzes, assignment, yung mga time, kung kailan yung deadline."
Lastly, the Olympian has one last reminder for student-athletes: "Pinili natin 'to. We have to be committed."