Hidilyn Diaz’s win at the Olympics is a feat worth celebrating even for the future generations of Filipinos. Although her historic gold medal win made it to the headlines, her coach Julius Irvin Naranjo — who also happens to be her boyfriend — caught the attention of many as well. He was the man in the blue shirt who gave her a warm, tight hug as soon as her victory was declared.
How exactly did the two meet?
Apparently, the lovers met each other at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in 2017, with Julius representing Guam in the 62kg weight category at the time.
In an interview with ABS-CBN’s Sports U two years ago, the Filipino-Japanese athlete admitted he wasn’t aware that Hidilyn is a star in Philippine sports.
“When I watched her first competition at that meet we were at, I was inspired to see her willpower,” he said. “Her way of really fighting towards the top, working hard, it’s such an inspiration,” he added.
But what started as a friendship became a special relationship made even extra special with Julius serving as a strength and conditioning coach for the Pinay weightlifting icon.
In an interview on Magandang Buhay, Hidilyn admitted things didn’t come easy between her and Julius as they got into fights due to Julius’s coaching style. Apparently, it took several months before Julius earned her trust as her coach.
While most fans would think the couple is in an ideal relationship, Julius revealed it’s actually hard to be both coach and boyfriend as he has to deal with all the emotions as well.
“You go through her emotions, you have to deal with all of that, you have to deal with the physical pain she goes through herself. And also the losses,” Julius told Sports U. “Everything that [she] experiences, I have and will experience them as well,” he continued.
But what probably makes their relationship even more special is the fact that he is always there for Hidilyn no matter the circumstances, offering emotional support at times when she needs it the most.
And now, it appears it’s only a matter of time before the two settle down as Julius revealed in an interview that both he and Hidilyn agreed that they would wait until the Olympics is over before they bring their relationship to an entirely new level. Hidilyn, on the other hand, said in a Magandang Buhay interview that she’s just waiting for her Olympic gold to arrive before they start a family of their own.