Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz (55KG) Wins First Olympic Gold Medal for the Philippines

Diaz brought home the 11th Olympic medal ever for the Philippines and the nation's first gold.

On the morning of July 26, 2021, 55-kilogram weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines stepped on the lifting platform at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games for her third clean & jerk attempt of 127 kilograms (280 pounds) — an Olympic record.

Diaz hit that lift to beat the 2019 Weightlifting World Champion Liao Quiyun of China by a single kilogram and win the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the Philippines. This is the first time since entering the Olympic Games in 1924, that the Philippines has won a gold medal. Here are Diaz’s stats from the 2020 Olympic Games.

2020 Tokyo Olympic Games — Hidilyn Diaz, 55-Kilograms

  • Snatch — 97 kilograms (213.9 pounds)
  • Clean & Jerk — 127 kilograms (280 pounds)
  • Total — 224 kilograms (492.8 pounds)

Diaz’s clean & jerk and total were new Olympic records.

Hidilyn Diaz Philippines Weightlifter
Photo by Stephen Galvan for the IWF 

[Related: 2020 Olympic Games Weightlifting Results — Men’s 67-Kilograms]

Diaz tied Liao as both scored 97-kilogram (213.9-pound) snatches to move into the clean & jerk on even footing. Muattar Nabieva of Uzbekistan led the pack with an Olympic record 98-kilogram snatch. Moving into the clean & jerk portion of the competition, Liao seemingly had the upper hand as the current world record holder. She scored the 129-kilogram (284.4-pound) world record snatch at the 2019 World Championships (and also holds the world record total).

Liao made her third clean & jerk attempt of 126 kilograms (277.8 pounds) for a perfect six-for-six performance. However, it left the fate of the podium in the hands of Diaz, who called for 127 kilograms (280 pounds) on the barbell. A clean lift by Diaz brought tears to her face, placed her atop the podium, and got the Philippines on the medal table with its first Olympic gold medal in history. 

 [Related: 2020 Olympic Games Weightlifting Results — Women’s 49-Kilograms]

The Philippines at the Olympics

Before Diaz’s gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, 10 Olympics medals were won by athletes from the Philippines, including Diaz’s silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in the 53-kilogram class. (The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) approved new bodyweight categories in 2018).

The majority of Olympic medals won by athletes from the Philippines were in boxing (five). The Philippines also has a pair of medals in three other sports — two in swimming, athletics, and now weightlifting:

Olympic Medals Won by the Philippines

Weightlifting

  • Hidilyn Diaz 
    • Silver — 2016 Rio Olympic Games
    • Gold — 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

Boxing

  • José Villanueva
    • Bronze — 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games
  • Anthony Villanueva
    • Silver — 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games
  • Leopoldo Serantes
    • Bronze — 1988 Seoul Olympic Games
  • Roel Velasco
    • Bronze — 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games
  • Mansueto Velasco
    • Silver — 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games

Swimming

  • Teófilo Yldefonso
    • Bronze — 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games
    • Bronze — 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games

Athletics

  • Simeon Toribio
    • Bronze — 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games
  • Miguel White
    • Bronze — 1936 Berlin Olympic Games

Diaz is the first weightlifter from the Philippines to win an Olympic medal and the second to win more than one Olympic medal. The last time an athlete from the Philippines earned a second medal at an Olympic Games was Yldelfonso 89 years ago.

Feature image: @iwfnet on Instagram/Photo by Stephen Galvan