History has been made as Hidilyn Diaz gave the Philippines its first-ever Olympic gold medal after topping the women’s 55kg weightlifting in Tokyo on Monday, July 26.
Seeing action in her fourth straight Olympics, the 30-year-old exceeded her silver-medal finish in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games as she tallied 97kg in snatch and an Olympic record 127kg in clean and jerk for a gold-medal-winning total of 224kg, which is also an Olympic record.
Diaz ended a near century-long Olympic gold-medal drought for the Philippines, becoming the first female athlete from the country to win multiple Summer Games medals.
As snatch leader Muattar Nabieva of Uzbekistan fizzled out in the clean and jerk round, the fight for gold turned into a one-on-one showdown between Diaz and world record holder Liao Qiuyun of China.
Diaz cleared 119kg and 124kg in her first two clean and jerk attempts, respectively, to take the lead for the gold only to witness Liao – who also lifted 97kg in snatch – seize the top spot with an erstwhile Olympic record of 126kg on her last clean and jerk shot for a total of 223kg.
But Diaz further raised the bar, resetting the Olympic record with 127kg on her final clean and jerk attempt as she edged Liao by a mere kilogram to capture the gold medal.
Meanwhile, Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan finished with a distant 213kg for the bronze medal.
It was an emotional moment for Diaz after hurdling several obstacles in her preparation for Tokyo, including being stuck in Malaysia for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As soon as Diaz knew she cleared 127kg in the clean and jerk, Diaz burst into tears and let out a scream.
Diaz immediately shared the moment with her team, composed of head coach Kaiwen Gao, strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, and nutritionist Jeaneth Aro, and sports psychologist Karen Trinidad.
Diaz stood tall as she sang the Philippine national anthem, played for the first time ever in the Olympics.