TOKYO, Japan — Until Monday, the Philippines had never won an Olympic gold medal.
Hidilyn Diaz, a weight lifter at her fourth Olympics, finally broke the Philippines’ nearly century-long drought by capturing a gold in the women’s 55 kilogram division, achieving two Olympic records in the process.
The weightlifter a combined weight of 224 kg, an Olympic record.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said, caressing the gold medal hanging on her neck. “I expected to win, but when you hold this already, it’s like, Wow, I never thought this would happen today.”
Diaz, 30, said that her record-breaking 127 kilogram lift in the clean and jerk event was the first time she had successfully hefted that much weight. In training, she had maxed out at 125 kilograms, she said.
“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,” Diaz said in a post-match interview.
She also claimed another Olympic record for the total of her two best lifts, one in the snatch and the other in the clean and jerk.
The finale of the 55 kilogram competition provided high drama in a sport that can sometimes feel preordained, given the dominance of a Chinese squad that was expected to prevail in all four weight classes it was contesting in Tokyo.
Philippines’ presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a written statement that Diaz brought pride and glory to the Philippines.
“Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you,” he added.
China’s Liao Qiuyun, who failed to match her own world record, took silver with 223 kg. Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo won bronze with 213 kg.
Chinshanlo came close to completing a 123 kg lift in the clean and jerk, which would have been an Olympic record at that moment, but the judges reversed the decision. Soon after that Liao succeeded in lifting 126 kg.
The Chinese lifter’s record was then broken by Diaz who confidently lifted 127 kg.
Report from Forbes, NY Times