MANILA, Philippines – Hidilyn Diaz delivered the Philippines’ first gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games after reigning supreme in the women’s weighlifting 53 kg at the Jakarta International Expo in Indonesia on Tuesday, August 21.
The Olympic silver medalist lifted a total of 207 kg to edge Turkmenistan’s Kristina Shermetova, who finished with 206 kg, as the Philippines improved its medal haul to five after winning four bronze medals earlier.
“It was pressure for me for how many months,” Diaz told AFP.
“At the Olympics no one expected me to win but at Asian Games everyone expected me to win a medal, a gold medal.
“For months I couldn’t sleep, my training got ruined but with positive people surrounding me I got through it. They inspired and motivated me.”
Diaz, one of the country’s top medal bets, lifted 92 kg in the snatch and actually trailed Shermetova, who cleared 93 kg in the snatch, before taking the lead with a 115 kg lift in the clean and jerk.
Shermetova, who lifted 113 kg in the clean and jerk, upped the ante for the gold and attempted 116 kg in her final try but to no avail.
Back home, President Rodrigo Duterte immediately congratulated the 27-year-old weightlifting star, who’s also an Airwoman First Class.
Duterte, upon hearing about Diaz’s win, retrieved the microphone at his Cebu City event after his speech to announce the good news.
“In Jakarta, we won the first gold medal…Hidilyn Diaz, sundalo ito ng (she’s a soldier of the) Philippine army.”
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also saluted Diaz for her victory.
“Airwoman First Class Diaz epitomizes the diligence, perseverance, hard work, and dedication not only of every airman, Soldier, Sailor, and Marine, but of every Filipino who triumphs over all adversities and challenges,” the AFP said in a statement. – with reports from Agence France-Presse, Pia Ranada