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Hidilyn Diaz opens up about 'mental breakdown' ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Hidilyn Diaz says she struggled with her mental health while preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.

The 30-year-old weightlifter from Zamboanga, who gave the Philippines its first Olympic gold medal last Monday, turned emotional while recalling her "mental breakdown" in an ANC interview on Thursday.

"Sa totoo lang, [noong] 'yung olympics na-postpone, syempre, umiiyak talaga ako," Hidilyn said.

"Tapos, syempre 'yung coaches ko naaawa, pero good thing nandiyan sila pinakinggan nila ako at sinabi nila sa 'kin na, we'll stay, we will support you, we will be here. Malaking bagay 'yun sakin," she added.

[When the Olympics was postponed, I really cried. And my coaches felt sorry for me. But good thing, they stayed with me and listened to me and reminded me of their support. That was a big deal.] 

"Umiiyak ako kasi nga 'yun 'yung down time moment ko. Kasi ilang beses akong nag-prepare din. Good thing hindi nila ako iniwan. Malaking bagay 'yun para sa 'kin kasi, kung wala sila, baka hindi ko ma-survive 'yung doon."

[I cried because I trained very hard for the Games. It's a good thing they didn't leave me. It's a big deal because without them, I don't think I would've survived.]

Hidilyn expressed her gratitude to "Team HD" for staying by her side, including her team psychologist, Dr. Karen Katrina Trinidad, who gave her some useful advice.

"Noong time na 'yun, syempre parang namroblema ako for 15 months. Preparation ulit?... Akala ko matatapos na...'Kaya ko pa ba? --  may mga ganon na katanungan," she said.

"Pero good thing Team HD may sports psychologist, si Doc Karen. Ang sabi niya: You have to get it…kailangan i-handle mo 'to day-by-day, kasi nga hindi mo ma-handle 'yan by planning for the 15 months, so ginawa ko day-by-day," she added.

[I was worried for maybe 15 months. Did I need to redo my training? Could I handle it? It's a really good thing I had a sports psychologist in my team. Doc Karen told me, I have to get it. I needed to handle it day-by-day. So I did it and took one day at a time.] 

"Nagiging grateful ako day-by-day, naging productive ako day-by-day. Naghahanap ako ng paraan nagluluto ganon, nagmi-meeting, and part ako ng Project Steady."

[I remained grateful everyday. I became productive day-by-day. I looked for ways — I cooked, I attended meetings, I was a part of Project Steady.]

The Tokyo Olympics were delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Monday, Diaz made history as the first Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal after ruling the women's 55-kg weightlifting event.

The 30-year-old athlete, who is also a silver medalist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a gold medalist in the 2018 Asian Games and 2019 Southeast Asian Games, has actively been calling for more support for her fellow Filipino athletes. — Margaret Claire Layug/LA, GMA News