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Hidilyn Diaz Makes History, Wins First Olympic Gold Medal for Philippines

Congratulations, Hidilyn.
by Ara Eugenio
Jul 26, 2021
Photo/s: VINCENZO PINTO / AFP
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(UPDATE) Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won the Philippines' first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo on Monday, bringing pride to a pandemic-stricken nation.

In a thrilling bid to beat China's world-record holder Liao Qiuyun, the 30-year old Diaz lifted an Olympic record of 127-kg in her third and final lift.

"Sana may sumunod sa amin. Na hindi kami ang last na Filipina na mananalo sa Olympics. Sana marami pa, sana may sumunod pa," Diaz told Summit Media journalists in March. 

It will likely be the last Olympics for Diaz, who earlier broke the Philippines' two-decade-long medal drought at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

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With Liao setting a target of 223kg, just four kilos shy of her own world record, Diaz was faced with a final clean and jerk of 127kg to win -- fully 5kg more than she had ever achieved in competition.

With a massive effort she hoisted the huge Olympic record weight and the tears of joy began to flow even before she dropped the bar to the floor after a triumphant effort.

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Liao took the silver, with Kazakhstan's Zulfiya Chinshanlo the bronze.

Diaz was already assured a place in her country's sporting folklore, alongside the likes of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, as the only woman from the sprawling archipelago ever to win an Olympic medal -- her surprise silver five years ago breaking a 20-year medal drought for the Philippines.

Diaz spent the last year and half training in exile in Malaysia because of Covid restrictions, so dedicated was she to claim an unprecedented gold in her fourth and probably final Games.

Diaz's medal was just the 11th by the Philippines since they first took part in the Olympics in 1924, and now the only gold.

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Diaz became just the second athlete from her country to win multiple Olympics medals, joining swimmer Teofilo Yldefonzo who won bronze in the men's 200m breaststroke in 1928 and 1932.

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