Tokyo 2021: Supporting Filipino athletes as they #ThirstForGold

Award-winning TV producer Michael Schur once said, “You can’t achieve anything entirely by yourself. There’s a support system that is a basic requirement of human existence. To be happy and successful on earth, you just have to have people that you rely on.”

As Filipino Olympians Hidilyn Diaz and EJ Obiena intensely prepare for the Tokyo Olympics 2021, the two are inviting Filipinos to support them in the upcoming competition.

They faced the media in Summit Natural Drinking Water’s #ThirstForGold virtual press conference last April 30, 2021.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz is highly pressured to perform well in the upcoming game after she ended the Philippines’ 20-year Olympic Medal drought. She is the first Filipina to win an Olympic medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics would also be Hidilyn’s fourth Olympic streak. 

Despite the hurdles brought about by the current global pandemic, Hidilyn’s positive attitude towards things makes it easier for her to prepare her body and mind for the game. 

“Akala namin… hindi na matutuloy yung Olympics. Ang daming pinagdaanan, pero again, napaka-special nito kasi this will be my 4th Olympics tapos ito na ‘yung ngayon eh… Pinapatunayan ko pa rin na kaya nating mga Pilipino na lumaban sa Olympics,” Hidilyn said.

“Akala namin… hindi na matutuloy yung Olympics. Ang daming pinagdaanan, pero again, napaka-special nito kasi this will be my 4th Olympics tapos ito na ‘yung ngayon eh… Pinapatunayan ko pa rin na kaya nating mga Pilipino na lumaban sa Olympics,” Hidilyn said.

Pole vaulter EJ Obiena’s current mindset is not different from Hidilyn’s. The pressure is also immense for EJ as he is the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and the first Filipino to receive a scholarship from the International Athletic Association Federation. 

“To be honest, it’s not really about being the first one who qualified for the Olympic game. It’s always a dream of mine so it’s a fulfillment, it’s something amazing… Until now, I still can’t find the exact words to describe what I felt during that day,” EJ said. 

EJ also bagged the gold medal from the Asian Athletics Championship 2019 after breaking the record with 5.71 meters. 

“To be honest, it’s not really about being the first one who qualified for the Olympic game. It’s always a dream of mine so it’s a fulfillment, it’s something amazing… Until now, I still can’t find the exact words to describe what I felt during that day,” EJ said. 

The life of an athlete in a pandemic

Hidilyn Diaz and EJ Obiena agreed that their routines are ‘very boring,’ but they also agreed that repetitive training and pushing themselves to the limit can lead them to excellence. 

It is also no doubt that our athletes faced worries and uncertainties because of the pandemic. 

Hidilyn explained: “Yung anxiety, sobrang taas noong lockdown. Maraming kang questions as an athlete… [pero] matuloy man o hindi ang Olympics, dapat prepared ka pa rin.”

“It’s a mind game, it’s a lot of stress, a lot of expectations… You need to be able to manage that. You need to stay composed and perform at your best and that’s the mental side of my sport,” said EJ. 

The importance of the athletes’ support system

Despite hardships that come along with their journeys as athletes, Hidilyn and EJ continuously face these head-on. And the credit is shared with the teams behind them and the people who constantly support them every step of the way. 

“Good thing is I have my coach, I have my psychologist, I have all of these people guiding me and I trust them that come that day, I’ll be prepared for whatever Tokyo has to offer,” EJ said. 

Hidilyn also showed her appreciation for her team. 

“Aaminin ko medyo mahirap maghanap ng motivation lalong lalo na during this time, pero binalikan ko kasi yung why ko… Dahil mahal ko yung weightlifting, ginagawa ko ito para sa Pilipinas, and ginagawa ko rin ito to serve as an inspiration sa mga kabataan na huwag mag-give up, lalong lalo na during this pandemic. Hindi ako pwedeng mag-give up dahil may mga taong nasa likod ko, gaya ni EJ, may team din sa likod ko. Nandito pa rin ako dahil sa kanila, ang team HD,” Hidilyn said.

Indeed, being an athlete who carries and represents the country is not an easy task. There are a lot of things and factors that come into play when preparing the mind, the body, and the soul. 

EJ Obiena assured their supporters: “For everyone in the Philippines… things are going to get better. We’re gonna do our best, that’s a promise.”

Hidilyn Diaz encouraged Filipinos to support them in their upcoming game: “Patuloy po ninyong suportahan kaming mga Filipino athletes. We really need your support lalo na ngayong pandemic kasi medyo mahirap ‘yung preparasyon… Kayang kaya natin ‘to, huwag tayong sumuko.”

As studies show that supporting someone contributes positive changes to a person’s life, let us continuously rally our support for our athletes, EJ Obiena and Hidilyn Diaz.

That is why this month of May, Summit Natural Drinking Water made five exclusive Olympic bottle designs available in the market. Each purchase will contribute to the training and hydration of our athletes. 

About the Author

Tricia Allyson Salvador is a Communication student from the University of Santo Tomas and currently an intern of SubSelfie.com.

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