Philippines win first Olympic gold after almost 100-year attempt

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, on Monday, won The Philippines’ first ever Olympic gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The Olympic gold medal has eluded the Southeast Asian country since it made its debut at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Diaz won gold in the 55-kilogram category of women’s weightlifting. She also set an Olympic record with her combined weight total of 224 kilograms across two successful lifts.

The gold medal brawl came down to Diaz’s last lift, where she slugged it out with China’s Liao Qiuyun, the world record-holder in the event.

Both Diaz and Liao lifted 97 kilograms in their first-round snatch lift. For the clean and jerk which followed, Liao lifted 126 kilograms (nearly 278 pounds). Diaz responded by lifting 127 kilograms — another Olympic record — which finally broke the Philippines’ gold drought.

Liao clinched silver, and Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo won bronze.

Speaking to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Diaz said, “I sacrificed a lot. I wasn’t able to be with my mother and father for how many months and years and then of course, training was excruciating. But God had a plan.”

30-year-old Diaz is at her fourth Olympics. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she won a silver prize and became the first woman from her country to win an Olympic medal.

Diaz started weightlifting as a child, using plastic pipes that held concrete weights.

Her Olympics bio reads, “When she was 11, the Filipina was given a barbell to train with after a local weightlifting competition, and she practiced so hard that she wore it out, breaking the bar from overuse.”

“”But people and clubs noticed her dedication and donated more bars to the girl who loved to lift as she became a frequent fixture at every competition she could enter.”

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