Weightlifter gets Philippines 1st ever Olympic gold after nearly 100 years

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Hidilyn Diaz of Philippines celebrates as she sets the new world record and won the gold medal in the women’s 55kg weightlifting event, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

TOKYO (NEXSTAR) — Hidilyn Diaz has become the first Olympic gold medalist from the Philippines after winning the women’s 55-kilogram weightlifting category.

Diaz overtook Liao Qiuyun of China on her last lift in the clean and jerk to win with a total 224 kilograms.

That was one more than Liao. China had won all three events so far and was hoping to sweep the gold medals in the eight competitions its athletes have entered.

Liao came into the competition as the world record holder with a total 227kg.

Video of the event showed emotional Diaz let out a victory cry after dropping the bar, clutching her hands in front of her heart as members of her team rushed over to embrace her.

Diaz was just 11 when she was introduced to weightlifting, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She would go on to devote herself to the sport which would become her path out of poverty, but it wasn’t easy.

“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,” Diaz told the newspaper. “But God had a plan.”

The office of President Rodrigo Duterte celebrated the historic victory, tweeting, “Long live Hidilyn!”

The Philippines has been competing in the Olympics since the country sent its first delegation to the 1924 games in Paris.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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