Hidilyn Diaz has won the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold, in the women’s 55kg weightlifting
Olympic athlete and Gen.T honouree Hidilyn Diaz has won Olympic gold, the first gold medal won by any Filipino athlete at the Olympic Games.
Diaz won gold in the women’s 55kg weightlifting, eventually edging out world champion Liao Qiuyun of China in a closely contested final few lifts that broke Olympic records.
Going into the final lift, Liao Quiyun set an Olympic record with 126kg in the clean and jerk, giving her an Olympic record total of 223kg. In a nail-biting finale, Diaz was able to go one better, finishing with 126kg in the clean and jerk and 224kg total.
Diaz’s gold is the latest achievement in a career defined by firsts. In 2017 she earned the Philippines its first-ever gold in the Asian Games, and at the 2016 Games in Rio, she became the first Filipino to win an Olympic medal in 20 years, taking home the silver. This is Diaz’s fourth Games, having represented her country since the Beijing Olympics in 2008; at London 2012 she was the nation’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony.
“I am 30 years old and I thought it would be like going down, my performance, but I was shocked I was able to do it,” she said in a post-match interview.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s a dream, come true,” Diaz told AFP. “I want to say to the young generation in the Philippines, ‘You can have this dream of gold too’. This is how I started and finally I was able to do it.”
Diaz’s achievement caps off an unprecedented summer for Filipino sport. In June, Philippine golfer and fellow Gen.T honouree Yuka Saso won the women’s US Open, becoming the first Filipino player to win a major golf tournament.
“I’m looking forward to going back home to the Philippines to be with my family because I really miss them,” said Diaz. “I’m looking forward now to enjoy my life after so many sacrifices.”
Diaz is also on active duty in the Philippine Air Force, serving as an Airwoman Sergeant.