How Team Hidilyn Diaz Lulled China Into Thinking She Couldn't Win


All-out effort… and perhaps, a little psychological warfare.

This was one tactic revealed by weightlifting federation head Monico Puentevella to The New York Times’ Hannah Beech, who wrote a feature on Hidilyn Diaz in the wake of her historic win.

Of the many international news publications that picked up Diaz’s story, it was the NYT’s that proved one of the most sizable. In print, the article is titled "Raised Poor, She Gives Philippines 1st Gold." On digital, the article headline is a more direct "Weight lifter Hidilyn Diaz makes history, securing the first Olympic gold for the Philippines."


Beech devoted multiple column inches to Diaz’s life story, and a blow-by-blow account of the “high drama in a sport that can sometimes feel preordained.”

She was referring to China’s dominance of the sport — a weightlifting pecking order that was suddenly upturned by Hidilyn Diaz’s Olympic performance.


At the end of the piece, Puentevella told the Times how Team HD addressed that in the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Held last April, Diaz placed fourth in the tournament.

Beech wrote, “The idea was to lull the Chinese into thinking that Diaz had reached her full potential, [Puentevella] said. The ploy seemed to have worked.”

Elsewhere in the feature, the NYT narrated Hidilyn’s Tokyo 2020 attempt with much flair.

One section goes: “To win, Diaz would have to surpass what she had done before — by two kilograms. She pulled the bar to her clavicle, then staggered for a moment as she thrust the barbells into the sky. One Mississippi, two Mississippi.

“The gold was hers.”

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by editors.

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