Read ahead for an exclusive with Team HD’s Coach Jeaneth Aro
Behind a world-class Filipino athlete and Olympian is an equally hardworking and dedicated team. Hidilyn Diaz’s win is not only her own; she shares it with the country and Team HD, which includes Coach Jeaneth Aro as her sports nutritionist, sports psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad, weightlifting coach Kaiwen Gao and strength & conditioning coach Julius Naranjo.
In a recent post, Diaz shares her gratitude for the team: “Sila ang tao behind my back. Sila ang support system ko since November 2018. Sila ay naniwala sa kakayahan ko. Binigay nila kakayahan, talino, oras, nagtiis, nagintindi at bumalik kame sa WHY namin sa tuwing may misunderstanding ang team, yun ang Gold Medal para sa Pilipinas.”
(They are the people behind my back. They have been my support system since November 2018. They believed in my abilities. They gave their skills, brainpower; persevered, understood, and we all returned to our why when we had any misunderstanding as a team, for the Philippines’ Gold Medal.)
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We caught up with Coach Jeaneth, NUTRIFIT founder and registered nutritionist-dietitian, who is currently still in Tokyo to assist other Filipino athletes competing. Given the pandemic, she handled Hidi’s nutrition and training nutrition programs online while the team was in Malaysia and she was in the Philippines.
In a post-Olympics win entry, she shares, “We are not perfect people, but we relentlessly strived to be better for each other, for this nation and for the glory of God. One side of the talisman is science, but the more glaring side is unity for the wildest and biggest dream.”
Read ahead for a Wonder exclusive with Team Hidilyn Diaz’s Coach Jeaneth Aro.
Wonder: As a sports nutrition coach, you “collaborate the discipline of sports, fitness and nutrition.” How has this effectively translated to Hidilyn’s training program for the Olympics?
Coach Jeaneth: I am a former weight class athlete; I think this is also a huge factor in allowing me [to] understand HD’s struggles with her weight in preparation for a competition.
[For the Olympics], I included nutrition strategies that allowed her to maximize training adaptations. What really made this work was my constant coordination with our coaches, because I only make the nutrition program after I have seen their training program both for weightlifting and S&C (strength and conditioning).
W: You’ve collaborated with and uplifted many Filipino athletes over the years. Any memorable moments as a sports nutrition coach?
CJ: Working with elite-level Filipino athletes in the International Competition Arena such that with HD in Rome, Italy where she won three gold medals; with the National Boxing team at the World Championships; Jerwin Ancajas in Stockton, US and Mexico, and of course, here at the [Tokyo 2020] Olympics.
W: What’s next for Hidilyn and the rest of the team? What are you guys eyeing to conquer next, or pahinga (rest) muna?
CJ: Short rest but we are preparing to join the World Championships, Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games.
W: What healthy lifestyle habits do you encourage for athletes, especially for weightlifters?
CJ: To always pay attention to what they are eating, to make it part of their lifestyle. I am not saying that they should be restrictive but they have to be consistent with healthy living. It is not a thing that they should only think of when competition is near or when they are pressed for time with their weight cut. They also need to remember to always match their nutrition with that of daily training needs.
Tokyo 2020 sparked something in Filipinos around the world, but we don’t stop here.
Stay updated with Coach Jeaneth Aro and Team Pilipinas at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by following her on Instagram.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver