By Karol Jozef Mabazza
Four-time Olympian Hidilyn Diaz bags first-ever Olympic Gold Medal for the Philippines after a 97-year long drought breaking the championship curse as she is brought into tears knowing history has been made earning a total of 224 points, in the Weightlifting Women’s 55kg division of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games setting two new Olympic Records at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo, Japan on July 26.
Diaz defeated Chinese opponent Qiuyun Liao in a close point match where they tied in the Snatch round and clinching a one-point difference in the Clean & Jerk.
The 30-year old Airwoman also won the hearts of Filipino sports fans after she got the first medal of the Philippine Delegation in the 3rd Day of the Olympic Games.
In this historic win, the Philippine National Anthem “Lupang Hinirang” was played for the first time in the Olympics since the country’s debut in 1924.
The Filipina scored 97 points (94-97-99) in the Snatch and 127 points (119-124-127) in the Clean & Jerk where she set a new Olympic Record.
Liao managed to get a clean 97-point performance (92-95-97) in the Snatch and 126 points (118-123-126) in the Clean & Jerk round, a point behind Diaz while finishing second.
Behind Liao is Zulfiya Chinshanlo a 28-year old weightlifter from Kazakhstan who seized 90 points (90-93-93) in the Snatch category and 123 points (123-123-125) in the Clean & Jerk round garnering 213 total points, 10 points less than Liao.
Placing 4th is Muattar Nabieva of Uzbekistan who passed Diaz by a point in the Snatch round setting a new Olympic Record. She scored 114 (114-114-117) in the Clean & Jerk.
Diaz remains thankful to her team of coaches and their group called “Team HD” having the members namely Coaches Kaiwen Gao and Julius Naranjo, Sports Nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and Sports Psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad. She explained that having a support group is a factor to win.
“I won’t survive this pandemic without them”. “It’s still like a roller-coaster ride,” she said before the Games.
According to the Gold Medalist, the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic reminded her of the importance of “Team HD”.
This may be her fourth and final Olympics because of her age. She said she does not know what will happen to her body if she continues after Tokyo 2020.
“I need life after sports. I don’t know what my body will say. Oh, you need to rest. Your body cannot do it anymore. As you age, you lose your ability for heavy lifting,” she answered.
She also wants to study after her career and get a degree.
“I really want the degree because I already have an Olympic medal. But for me, you need the degree with the Olympic medal for you to influence more people, and to have more opportunities after sport. I can play sport forever, and that’s why I need to study.”
“An Olympic Medal is not just a medal, you have the responsibility to inspire the young generation,” Diaz said in Episode 2 of “Let’s Go HD!” on the Facebook Page of Kick-Start Coffee Brewed Awakening.
Diaz was the youngest competitor in the women’s 58-kg category at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. She won a Bronze Medal at the 2007 SEA Games and 10th place at the 2006 Asian Games in the 53-kg class. She won her first Gold Medal when she competed in the women’s 55-kg class at the 2019 SEA Games here in the Philippines.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she was the first Pinay to win a medal when she won the Silver Medal in the Women’s Weightlifting 53kg final.