Hidilyn Diaz, a silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, completed the Philippines’ 97-year pursuit of gold medals and set two Olympic records.

Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines won the women’s 55 kg (121 lb) weightlifting title at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and became the country’s first Olympic gold medalist, igniting the country’s exhausted population due to the COVID-19 pandemic Celebrations.

The 30-year-old woman participated in the Olympics for the fourth time, lifting 97 kg (213.84 lb) in the snatch and 127 kg (279.98 lb) in the clean and jerk, with a total weight of 224 kg (493.8 lb), which is also an Olympic record.

By winning the gold medal, Diaz also ended the Philippines’ 97-year pursuit of Olympic gold medals. It participated in the Olympics for the first time in 1924 and had previously won three silver medals and seven bronze medals.

In 2016, Diaz won the silver medal at the Rio Olympics. In the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, she won the championship.

“I still can’t believe it,” she told reporters after the event. “I was even surprised that I could do this.”

“Thank you very much for believing in me. I have wanted to give up many times because I have gone through many challenges, but you are all by my side,” Diaz said.

Diaz defeated the world record holder China’s Liao Qiuyun and Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo.

“As an opponent, I really respect Diaz. She does better, and it is a good thing for everyone who supports her,” the news report quoted Liao as saying. Liao set a world record of 227 kilograms (500.44 pounds) at the 2019 World Championships.

World boxing champion and Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao is facing another championship game in the United States. He wrote on social media: “We are proud of you.”

‘A hero’

Social media broke out celebrations on Monday night and Tuesday morning, praising Diaz as a native of Zamboanga City in southern Mindanao and a “hero.”

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions, many of Diaz’s supporters and family members cannot travel to Tokyo.

Harry Roque, spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, said in a written statement that Diaz has brought pride and glory to the Philippines.

“Congratulations, Shidi Lin. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you,” he added.

In 2019, the Duterte administration came under fire after it mistakenly identified Diaz as part of an organization trying to overthrow the president.

Diaz strongly denies these allegations, but still has to fight a series of personal attacks and insults launched online by people who sympathize with Duterte.

Her victory on Monday night eclipsed Duterte’s last State of the Union address, which had earlier dominated the news.

The news of her victory was also the banner headline of the Tuesday newspaper, Replaces stories about the resurgence of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant.

Diaz said her goal is to participate in the next Paris Olympics. She buried her face in her hands, burst into tears, hugged the coach, and then hung the medal tightly around her neck.

Hidilyn Diaz celebrated with her team after her last weightlifting, which won her country’s first gold medal in Olympic history [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

Last year, Diaz found herself trapped in Malaysia. After the government imposed a travel ban due to COVID-19, she stayed for about five months on her way to Peru to participate in the Olympic qualifiers. Diaz said she built a gym and trained with water bottles during that time.

When training for the Olympics, she also had to appeal online for additional financial support with the limited help provided by the Philippine government.

Diaz, who was still in tears, attracted attention and salute when she sang the national anthem of her country-this was the first time she played on the podium.


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