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Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz wins Philippines’ first-ever gold medal at Tokyo Olympics

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The Philippines finally won its first Olympic gold medal ever at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo with weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz taking home first place in weightlifting.

The country sent its first delegation to Paris for the 1924 Olympics, meaning Diaz made history on Monday by winning the Philippines’ first gold medal, nearly 100 years after first attending the event.

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Diaz, a female weightlifter, won the gold medal in the 55-kilogram category of women’s weightlifting and also set an Olympic record of her combined weight total of 224 kilograms across two lifts.

The 30-year-old burst into tears as she celebrated the historic win with her coaches before making her way to the top of the podium. Diaz, who serves in the country’s air force, saluted and sang along to her country’s national anthem.

“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. But God had a plan,” Diaz told online news media the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Women's 55kg - Medal Ceremony - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 26, 2021. Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines, silver medalist Liao Qiuyun of China and bronze medalist Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan pose. (Reuters)
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Women's 55kg - Medal Ceremony - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 26, 2021. Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines, silver medalist Liao Qiuyun of China and bronze medalist Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan pose. (Reuters)

Diaz’s last lift, which won her the gold medal, was played against China’s Liao Qiuyun, an Olympic record holder.

Qiuyun came in second, receiving a silver medal with 223 kg and Kazakhstan’s Zuffiya Chinshanlo came in third, winning a bronze medal with 213 kg.

The Philippines’ senate recognized her win and, in a statement, urged the Philippines Armed Forces to commission her as an officer.

“As chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, I would strongly recommend to the AFP leadership that she be given a rank as a commissioned officer of the PAF. It’s the least the service can give her,” Filipino senator Panfilo Lacson said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

Before Diaz’s win, the Southeast Asian country had claimed 10 Olympic medals in its entire history- seven bronzes and three silvers, CNN reported. Diaz previously won silver at the at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

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