Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz bags PH's first Olympic gold medal in 97 years

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 26) – The 97-year wait for the elusive Olympic gold medal is over for the Philippines.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz clinched the country's first Olympic gold medal after dominating the women's -55kg final on Monday at the Tokyo International Forum.

Diaz lifted a total of 224 kilograms in the event, an Olympic record, to seal the win for the Philippines. Her gold medal-winning lift of 127 kilograms in the clean and jerk event is also an Olympic record.

The 30-year-old pride of Zamboanga is slated to receive at least ₱40.5 million as of this writing -- ₱10 million from the national government as stipulated in Republic Act 10699, ₱10 million each from business tycoons and sports patrons Ramon Ang and Manny Pangilinan, ₱3 million from Rep. Mikee Romero, ₱2.5 million from the local government of her hometown Zamboanga City, and ₱5 million from Phoenix Petroleum owner Dennis Uy.

She will also be awarded an Eastwood City condominium unit from developer MegaWorld, a house and lot in Tagaytay from the Philippine Olympic Committee, and lifetime free flights from Air Asia Philippines.

The Philippines first participated in the Summer Games in 1924. Prior to Diaz's feat, the country only won three silvers and 10 bronze medals in the 22 editions Filipino athletes participated. Diaz previously clinched the silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

How Diaz captured the coveted gold

Diaz comfortably cleared the 94- and 97-kg snatch lifts, but she failed to carry the 99-kg lift. She was tied with silver medalist Liao Qiuyun of China after the three snatch lifts with 97 kgs.

In the clean and jerk, her pet event, Diaz started strong after lifting 119 kgs, as she dislodged Liao who made 118 kgs in her first lift.

After seeing the Filipino and Chinese lifters, Kazakhstan's Zulfiya Chinshanlo decided to lift 123 kgs in her first clean and jerk attempt which forced Diaz and Liao to lift a higher weight in their second try. Chinshanlo, the event's bronze medalist, cleared the 123-kg lift in her second attempt.

Liao also cleared 123 kgs in her second attempt, but Diaz went for the higher 124-kg lift which she aced to position herself for the gold.

The Chinese lifter could only clear 126 kgs as the Filipino decided to go for 127 kgs. Diaz was already crying tears of joy while still clearing the winning lift.

Palace: Diaz brought pride and glory to PH

Malacañang congratulated Diaz for her amazing achievement.

"The Palace congratulates Hidilyn Diaz for bringing pride and glory to the Philippines for winning the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines also lauded Diaz, a Philippine Air Force sergeant, for her masterful performance in the sporting world's biggest stage.

"We are now more than ever inspired by her exceptional hard work, perseverance, and dedication. Soar high, airwoman!" said AFP Spokesperson Capt. Jonathan Zata.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Sports Commission praised Diaz, saying her hard work finally bore fruit.

"We have been dreaming about this and believing for it and now here it is -- a reality. All the hard work paid off and Hidilyn made history," said PSC Chairman William "Butch" Ramirez.