Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz wins first ever Olympic gold for Philippines

Athlete calls it 'a dream come true' as she triumphs in women’s 55-kilogram category in her fourth Games

Monday proved to be a historic day for the Philippines as weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first athlete from her country to win an Olympic gold medal.

The Rio 2016 silver medallist, 30, reached the top of the podium in the women's 55-kilogram class at the Tokyo International Forum, defeating world record holder Liao Qiuyun of China.

"It's unbelievable, it's a dream come true," Diaz told AFP. "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."

Liao set a target of 223kg, which was four short of her own world record. Diaz faced a final clean and jerk of 127kg to win - 5kg more than she had ever achieved.

With one final push, she clinched the gold and ended her country's gold drought. In her fourth Olympics, the 30-year-old lifted a combined weight of 224kg, an Olympic record.

Liao took silver, with Kazakhstan's Zulfiya Chinshanlo taking bronze.

Diaz was already a star back home, her silver five years ago ending a 20-year medal wait for the Philippines.

She spent the last year and a half training in exile in Malaysia because of Covid restrictions.

"I'm looking forward to going back home to the Philippines to be with my family because I really miss them," she said. "I'm looking forward now to [enjoying] my life after so many sacrifices."

Diaz's medal was one of only 11 the Philippines has won since the country first took part in the Olympics in 1924.

The country's presidential representative, Harry Roque, said that Diaz has brought pride and glory to the Philippines.

"Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you," he said.

Updated: July 27th 2021, 4:52 AM