A Timeline of the *Golden* & Kilig Relationship of Hidilyn Diaz and Julius Naranjo
Oct 21, 2021   •   Meryl Medel
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Oct 21, 2021   •   Meryl Medel
ICYMI, Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz just got engaged to her long-time partner Julius Naranjo. Here’s a timeline of their golden and kilig relationship so you can at least feel sparks vicariously.
Julius was based in Guam when they first met. They were both attending the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in 2017, where Julius represented Guam. He was also a weightlifting athlete but had to retire soon afterwards due to an injury. The former athlete turned to coaching after his retirement.
He admitted that he wasn’t familiar with how big Hidilyn was in the Philippine sports scene. “When I first met Hidilyn I didn’t know, I really didn’t know that she was a silver medalist,” he said in a Tunay na Buhay interview. “She was a fellow Filipino that I can meet ’cause I’m from Guam and I’m half-Filipino. I just thought it was great to meet Filipinos from the Philippines at a competition abroad.”
“When I watched her first competition at that meet we were at, I was inspired to see her willpower,” he said in another interview with Sports U. “Her way of really fighting towards the top, working hard, it’s such an inspiration.”
After their fateful first meeting, the two soon started dating. But it wasn’t long before a change entered their relationship.
Not long after, Julius also became her coach. This happened because one of Hidilyn’s coaches quit right before the 2016 Olympics. But this new aspect in their relationship wasn’t without challenges.
For the couple, their relationship as lovers and as coach and athlete are different. Hidilyn took time before giving her full trust to Julius as her coach, because this was her career as an athlete on the line.
“So ayun pumasok siya. Sabi niya ako mag-coach. Sabi ko magaling ka ba?” she said in a GMA interview. “Kahit sabihin na exercise science major siya, naging coach siya, hindi ako basta-basta naniniwala kahit boyfriend ‘yan. Hindi pwede ganoon. ‘Yung trust, it takes time.”
The couple also admitted this duality in their relationship was difficult and required sacrifices from both of them. “Sabi nga niya hindi normal relasyon natin. Syempre coach and athlete. Kailangan i-set aside pagiging boyfriend niya.”
Despite these challenges, the two stayed together, strong and in love throughout these years. Their relationship became even stronger after Julius decided to remain in Manila, forgoing an opportunity in China.
“Mas humaba ‘yung hair ko noong 2018 noong sinabi niya kasi: ‘Nagplaplano na ako pumunta ng China. Magtra-training sa China.’ Bigla na lang: ‘Magsta-stay ako dito sa Manila,'” the gold medalist said. Hidilyn protested his decision, since she said he had a good life in Guam, but for Julius, Hidilyn was worth it.
“She’s very beautiful. She caught my attention, couldn’t stop smiling,” Julius said about Hidilyn. “Whether she’s in workout clothes or in a beautiful dress, she’s still beautiful. It doesn’t change. It’s still the same feeling.”
During Hidilyn’s historic win at the Tokyo Olympics, it was Julius who first ran up to her to congratulate her. Kilig!
According to the gold medalist, Julius told her that they were attending a birthday party at Sheraton Manila, which would double as a despedida party for them before they leave for Malaysia. But unbeknown to her, Julius was actually planning to propose already! “Nagvlog pa ko, nagpapicture, at nagpacute pa ko,” she said in her Instagram caption.
In a video clip of the proposal, Julius was seen kneeling down as if to tie his shoelace, but he was actually pulling out the ring.
Speaking of, the ring is an even more beautiful testament to their love. It features a tiny barbell with a diamond on top. The inside of the band is engraved with “Tokyo 2020,” a special moment in their journey as a couple and as coach and athlete. Talk about kilig!
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Post-proposal, the two are getting straight back into the thick of competition. They’re heading to Malaysia to continue training for the upcoming IWF World Championship in December in Uzbekistan.
In the meantime, here’s a photo of Hidilyn Diaz in a wedding dress way back in 2017, around the same time the couple’s relationship started! (Fun fact: Hidilyn’s manager Noel Ferrer commented, “Jusko, basta after 2020 Tokyo Olympics pa ha…” — and here comes the couple now, successful and happy and still gearing up after Tokyo 2020.)
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