Olympian Hidilyn Diaz wins gold and makes Philipino history
[July 27, 2021: Josh Shavit]
Hidilyn Diaz competes during the Women's 55kg Group A on July 26. (CREDIT: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history on Monday by winning the first ever gold medal for the Philippines at the Summer Olympics. She broke a 97 year drought that started when the Phillipines first competed in 1924.
In the first round, Diaz and Liao Qiuyun of China both lifted 97 kilograms. In the second round, Liao lifted 126 kilograms, which prompted Diaz to respond with an Olympic record lift of 127 kilograms, or almost 280 pounds.
Zulfiya Chinshanlo, who represented Kazakhstan, settled for bronze followed by Liao with silver. Not only did Diaz set a record for her country, but she also set another Olympic record for lifting 224 kilograms across two lifts.
After the intense final between her and Liao Qiuyun, Diaz felt emotional replying, “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.”
During her childhood, she had developed an affinity for weight lifting, using anything she could get her hands on, such as plastic pipes that held concrete weights.
The Philippines won its first bronze medal in 1928, when Teofilo Yldefonso finished third in the men's 200-meter breaststroke. 36 years later, Anthony Villanueva gave the Philippines its first silver with a second-place finish in featherweight boxing. But Monday was the first time the country's national anthem was played during the medal ceremony.
She even got accolades from presidential spokesperson Harry Roque who said, “Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you.”
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