Weightlifter, Hidilyn Diaz made history on Monday by becoming the first athlete from the Philippines to win an Olympic gold medal.
Diaz, an Air Force servicewoman in the Philippines, has been living in exile in due to the COVID-19 pandemic and she was reduced to tears after dramatically winning gold in the women’s 55kg weightlifting class abs hearing her country’s national anthem.
The 30-year-old Rio 2016 silver medalist from the southern city of Zamboanga smashed her personal best to see off world record holder Liao Qiuyun of China who had to settle for silver while Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo took the bronze medal, 10kg adrift of the top two.
With her victory, she will claim 33 million pesos (£477,000) in cash from the government and several prominent businesses, as well as a house.
Prior to the Games, the Philippine Sports Commission guaranteed a 10 million-peso incentive for every Olympic gold medal won.
The Philippines first competed at an Olympic Games in 1924 – 97 years ago – when David Nepomuceno featured in 100m and 200m sprint races.
Victory in Tokyo is only her nation’s 11th ever Olympic medal.
Daiz told AFP;
It’s unbelievable, it’s a dream, come true. I want to say to the young generation in the Philippines, ‘You can have this dream of gold too’. This is how I started and finally I was able to do it.
China had won all three weightlifting events so far and were looking to sweep the gold medals in the eight competitions its athletes entered.
Olympic rules state that no country can enter more than four men’s and four women’s events.
Diaz, who is the daughter of a tricycle driver, added;
I’m looking forward to enjoying life because I have been in Malaysia for, I don’t know, almost two years, so I’m really thankful I can go home now and celebrate with my family and the people who support me.
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