In a historic win, Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz finally broke the country’s almost century-long gold medal drought by bagging gold in the women’s 55-kilogram division of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, breaking two Olympic records in the process.
Diaz recorded a 97kg lift in the snatch and an Olympic record-setting 127 kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 224 kg, also an Olympic record. (Read: Hidilyn Diaz Inspires Children to Dream High With New Book About Her Life)
The 30-year-old Filipino got off to a strong start clearing 94 kg in her first snatch attempt. She then tied the previous Olympic record of 97 kg in the second attempt.
However, she did not record a lift when she looked to take the lead with 99 kg, after Muattar Nabieva of Uzbekistan cleared 98 kg. (Read: Meet the 10 Filipinas Representing PH At The Tokyo Olympics)
By her second attempt of lifting 124 kg in the clean and jerk, Diaz went head-to-head with China’s Liao Qiuyun, the world record holder who took the lead with 126 kg in her third attempt. But Diaz prevailed and took home the gold with 127 kg to close out the event.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said, caressing the gold medal hanging on her neck. “I expected to win, but when you hold this already, it’s like, wow, I never thought this would happen today.”
Diaz said that her record-breaking 127-kilogram lift in the clean and jerk event was the first time she had successfully hefted that much weight. In training, she had maxed out at 125 kilograms.
With her win, Diaz becomes the first Filipina double Olympic medalist– she won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Pot of gold
Diaz is set to receive P33 million worth of incentives from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the country’s tycoons, and a house and lot. (Read: Pope Francis Quotes On The Importance And Impact Of Sports)
According to the PSC’s incentive system (RA 10699), an Olympic gold is worth P10 million– Diaz is the first Filipino athlete to pocket that amount. It was raised to P33 million thanks to the commitments of tycoons Manny Pangilinan and Ramon Ang, who are giving P10 million each, and Deputy Speaker of the House Mikee Romero’s P3 million.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino committed to giving a house and lot for every athlete who will win the gold.