First-ever Olympic gold lifts COVID-weary Philippines | Olympics Information
Rio 2016 silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz sets two Olympic records as she fulfills the Philippines’ 97-year quest for gold.
Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines won the women’s 55-kilogram (121-pound) weightlifting category in Tokyo 2020 to become the country’s first Olympic gold medalist in what is at home among the COVID-19 pandemic weary population celebrations triggered.
The 30-year-old competed in her fourth Olympics, lifting 97 kg (213.84 lbs) in snatch and an Olympic record of 127 kg (279.98 lbs) in clean and jerk for a total of 224 kg (493.8 lbs) , also an Olympic record.
By winning the gold, Diaz also ended the Philippines’ 97-year quest for gold at the Olympics. It first took part in the Games in 1924 and previously won three silver and seven bronze medals.
In 2016, Diaz won a silver medal at the Rio Games. At the Asian Games in Jakarta 2018, she took first place.
“I still can’t believe it,” she told reporters after the event. “I’m surprised myself that I made it.”
“Thank you for believing in me. There have been many times that I wanted to give up because of the many challenges I went through, but you were all there for me, ”said Diaz.
Diaz defeated world record holder Liao Qiuyun from China and Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo.
“I respect Diaz a lot as an opponent. She did a better job and it’s nice for all of the people who supported her, “Liao was quoted as saying in news reports. Liao had set a world record of 227 kg (500.44 lbs) at the World Cup in 2019.
Boxing world champion and Filipino Senator Manny Pacquiao, who is facing another title fight in the USA, wrote on social media: “We are so proud of you.”
Social media broke out into Monday night and into Tuesday morning, celebrating Diaz, a native of Zamboanga, a town on the southern island of Mindanao, as a “hero”.
Many Diaz supporters and family members were unable to travel to Tokyo due to the lockdown and restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said in a written statement that Diaz has brought pride and fame to the Philippines.
“Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you, ”he added.
THIS IS OUR MOMENT: Hidilyn Diaz, #PHI’s first #Olympic winner, greets the Philippine flag as the national anthem Lupang Hinirang plays for the first time at the Games pic.twitter.com/anjaXZ7wFZ
– Tonyo Cruz (@tonyocruz) July 26, 2021
In 2019, the Duterte government came under fire after mistakenly identifying Diaz as part of a group seeking to overthrow the president.
Diaz vehemently denied the allegations, but still had to deal with a flood of personal attacks and online abuse from people who sympathized with Duterte.
Her victory on Monday night dwarfed Duterte’s final State of the Union address that had previously dominated the news.
The news of their victory was also the headline in the newspapers on Tuesday, displacing stories of the recurrence of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant.
Diaz, who said she wanted to play in the next games in Paris, buried her face in her hands and burst into tears before hugging her coaches, then clutching the medallion around her neck.
Hidilyn Diaz celebrates with her team after her last lift, which won the first gold in Olympic history for her country [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]
Last year, Diaz was stuck in Malaysia, where she stopped for about five months on her way to Peru for an Olympic qualifying event after the government imposed a travel ban due to COVID-19. Diaz says she built a gym and exercised with bottled water during that time.
When she trained for the Olympics, she also had to seek additional financial support online, with limited support from the Philippine government.
A still tearful Diaz stood at attention and saluted as she bellowed her country’s national anthem – the first time she was played on the podium.