Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made true to her promise to end the gold medal drought for the Philippines as she ruled the 55-kilogram category in women’s weightlifting in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the Tokyo International Forum Monday, July 26.
Five years after settling with the silver medal in the Rio Olympics, Diaz successfully lifted 127kgs — an Olympic record –– on her third and last attempt at clean and jerk which gave her a total of 224kgs.
The 30-year-old Diaz had her best lift of 97kgs in snatch. Her total of 224kgs also set an Olympic mark.
China’s Liao Qiuyun, the world record holder, finished with a total of 223kgs following her 97kgs in snatch and 126kgs in clean and jerk to earn a silver medal, while Kazakhstan’s Chinshanlo Zulfiya placed third for the bronze with a total of 213kgs (90kgs in snatch and 123kgs in clean and jerk).
Diaz was in tears as she celebrated the victory with her “HD Team” composed of Chinese mentor Kaiwen Gao, strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo, Dr. Karen Trinindad – her psychologist – and sports nutritionist Jeaneth Aro.
Diaz was already assured a place in her country’s sporting folklore, alongside the likes of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, as the only woman from the sprawling archipelago ever to win an Olympic medal — her surprise silver five years ago breaking a 20-year medal drought for the Philippines.
Diaz spent the last year and a half training in Malaysia because of COVID restrictions, so dedicated was she to claim an unprecedented gold in her fourth and probably final Games.
Diaz’s medal was just the 11th by the Philippines since they first took part in the Olympics in 1924, and now the only gold.
Diaz became just the second athlete from her country to win multiple Olympics medals, joining swimmer Teofilo Yldefonzo who won bronze in the men’s 200m breaststroke in 1928 and 1932. (With a report from AFP)