The Philippines has won an Olympic gold medal for the first time in history at the Tokyo Summer Games.
Awarded to weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in the 55-kilogram category of women’s weightlifting, Diaz simultaneously set an Olympic record with a combined total of 224 kilograms (493 lbs.) across her two lifts.
The event saw Diaz go head-to-head with world record-holder, China’s Liao Qiuyun. Both competitors lifted 97 kilograms (214 lbs.) each in the first round’s snatch lift, but for the following clean and jerk, in which competitors lift the bar to their shoulders before raising it above their heads, Liao lifted 126 kilograms (278 lbs.), while Diaz exceeded with a 127-kilogram lift.
In addition to serving in her country’s air force, Diaz is a four-time Olympic competitor who first made waves in 2016 during the Summer Games in Rio when she placed silver in the 53-kilogram division, ending the Philippines’ 20-year medal drought.
The Philippines began entering the Olympics nearly 100 years ago, beginning with the 1924 Games in Paris, but has never had an athlete place 1st on the podium until now.
Alongside Diaz securing the gold, Liao placed silver and Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan won bronze.
“I sacrificed a lot,” Diaz told the Philippine Daily Inquirer of the difficult road to gold, beginning her training at the age of 11 and grappling with poverty over the course of her childhood. “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.”
In other sports news, the Tokyo Olympics saw a record 121 NBA and WNBA players competing on national teams.
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