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Weightlifter Diaz makes history for Philippines at Olympics

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-07-27 09:48
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Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of Philippines (C), silver medalist Liao Qiuyun of China (L) and bronze medalist Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan attend the awarding ceremony of the women's 55kg weightlifting event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, July 26, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

TOKYO - Hidilyn Diaz on Monday became the first person from the Philippines to win an Olympic gold medal after triumphing in the women's 55kg weightlifting category at Tokyo 2020.

The 30-year-old, who won silver at Rio 2016, smashed her personal best to see off world record holder Liao Qiuyun of China at the Tokyo International Forum.

Before Diaz's triumph, the Philippines had won three silver and seven bronze medals at the Olympic Games.

"I don't know what to say. It's a dream come true. I just want to say that we Filipinos are strong. We Filipinos can compete here at the Olympics. We can do it," said a high-spirited Diaz, also sharing her advice towards the Philippines' younger generations.

Hidilyn Diaz of Philippines celebrates after the women's 55kg weightlifting event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, July 26, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

"Please dream high. That's how I started. I dreamed high and finally I was able to do it."

After other contestants had confirmed their results, it became a head-to-head contest between Liao and Diaz. Liao, current world record holder in the clean and jerk and total, managed a 126kg third attempt, but Diaz improved to 127kg in the final lift.

"I feel good today. I can lift 123kg at most due to injuries, and never thought of a successful 126kg lift. I didn't expect her strength like this," said Liao.

China's coach Zhang Guozheng echoed Liao's thoughts.

"I didn't expect such a situation," he said. "Liao has gone all out, so it's not a huge pity for her to lose the gold medal. It's just because we did not expect our opponent (Diaz) to be so strong."

Liao Qiuyun of China competes during the women's 55kg weightlifting event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, July 26, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Liao went 3-for-3 in the snatch, lifting 92kg, 95kg and 97kg respectively. Muattar Nabieva of Uzbekistan led the snatch section with an Olympic record 98kg, and Diaz tied Liao's result going into the clean and jerk.

Liao had to settle for a silver with 223kg, and Zulfiya Chinshanlo from Kazakhstan pocketed the bronze with 213kg. 

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