She’s no longer just the queen of Philippine weightlifting, but also in the world’s biggest sporting stage.
Hidilyn Diaz came out in her best form to capture the Philippines’ first ever Olympic gold medal as she ruled the 55kg in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics weightlifting competition on Monday, July 26, at the Tokyo International Forum.
Diaz recorded a 97kg in the snatch and an Olympic record 127kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 224kg, also an Olympic record.
Diaz also became the first Filipina athlete to win double Olympic medals after her 2016 Rio Olympic silver medal conquest.
Swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso is the only multi-medaled Filipino Olympian after winning the bronze in the men’s 200 meter breaststroke in both the 1928 Amsterdam and 1932 Los Angeles.
The 30-year-old Filipina got off to a strong start clearing 94kg in her first snatch attempt, then proceeding to tie the previous Olympic record of 97kg in the second attempt.
After Muattar Nabieva of Uzbekistan cleared 98kg to reset the Olympic record in snatch, Diaz looked to take the lead with 99kg, but did not record a lift.
By her second attempt of lifting 124kg in the clean and jerk, Diaz went head-to-head with China’s Liao Qiuyun, the world record holder who took the lead with 126kg in her third attempt. But the Filipina took home the gold with the 127kg to close out the event.
Liao settled for silver with a 223kg total (97kg snatch, 126 kg clean and jerk). Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo took the bronze at 213kg (90kg snatch, 123kg clean and jerk).
Liao failed to match her own world record, while Chinshanlo was a gold medalist at the 2012 London Games but in 2016 she was stripped of a medal after failing doping tests in a re-analysis of samples.
After completing her final lift in a very close competition, Diaz held her hands to her face and burst into tears before embracing her coaches and clutching at the medal around her neck.
On the podium, a still-tearful Diaz stood to attention saluting as she belted out her country’s national anthem at the top of her voice.
The Tokyo Games is Diaz’s fourth straight Olympics.
She went empty-handed in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics before her breakthrough performance in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, where she won a silver in the women’s -53 kg.
With her triumph in 2016, she became the first athlete from the Philippines to bag an Olympic medal since 1996, when boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco clinched silver in the men’s light flyweight division.
Diaz holds the distinction as one of the only three Filipinos in history to capture an Olympic silver as a gold medal had remained elusive for the country.
The pride of Zamboanga City sustained her fine form since the Rio de Janeiro Games.
She won her first Asian Games gold in 2018 as she ruled the women’s -53kg division and copped her maiden Southeast Asian Games gold in 2019 as she reigned supreme in the women’s -55kg. – with reports from Reuters, Delfin Dioquino/Rappler.com