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DIAZ dazzles and claims PHI’s first ever Olympic Gold

After nearly a century of trying, a Filipino athlete finally landed atop the Olympic podium– and it happened in the sport of Weightlifting. 

A 97-year drought ended Monday as DIAZ Hidilyn, 30, in her fourth consecutive Olympic Games, stunned the world and won an Olympic Gold for the Philippines, the nation’s first since entering Olympic competition in 1924. 

“I did not give up during the pandemic. I am really thankful. Winning the gold medal is a really big thing for me and all of the Philippine people.” DIAZ said.

In a thrilling back-and-forth clean & jerk session, DIAZ had the final attempt in the competition. With 127kg loaded on the bar, a successful attempt would mean two Olympic Records, the title of Olympic Champion and making her mark in Olympic history. 

A miss meant another silver medal, equaling her result five years ago at the Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 2016.

As DIAZ jerked the bar overhead, the silence of the nearly-empty Tokyo International Forum was deafening. A moment after the bar hit the platform, DIAZ exploded in emotion, letting out a scream and bursting into tears as her coaches celebrated with her on stage. It was a cathartic moment for millions of Filipinos around the world who, for generations, have waited nearly 100 years for a taste of Olympic glory.

“I want to say to the Philippine people that we can do it. We are proud,” DIAZ said. 

DIAZ ended the day with the Olympic Record in clean & jerk, 127kg and total 224kg.

LIAO Qiuyun took home silver with a 223kg, ending CHN’s streak of winning all of the Olympic Weightlifting gold medals awarded thus far in these Games.

“I really enjoyed the Olympic Games and I did the best I can, in fact better than I imagined,” LIAO said. “I really respect my opponent because she did a better job. I’m thankful for all the people who supported me.”

KAZ’s CHINSHANLO Zulfiya won bronze with a 213kg total. 

NABIEVA Muattar (UZB) set an Olympic Record in snatch with a 98kg lift. 

Earlier in the day’s B session, five women took to the platform, including LIFY Mary Kini, the sole weightlifting athlete from Solomon Islands and only one of three athletes the Solomon Islands National Olympic Committee sent to these Games.

“It means a lot to me [to be one of three athletes representing SOL at these Olympic Games],” LIFY told the IWF. “This is my first time as an Olympian, so today I am really happy.”

A special moment on the platform after the session’s final lift. ŁOCHOWSKA Joanna (POL) took off her shoes and placed them on the platform to announce her retirement from the sport. LOCHOWSKA’s first took the international stage in 2007. She won three European Championships in her career and appeared at the Olympic Games London 2012.

Tuesday’s action in Tokyo includes two more medal rounds as the women’s 59kg A session begins at 15:50 followed by the women’s 64kg A session at 19:50. A combined 59kg B and 64kg B session starts the day of competition at 11:50.