Hidilyn Diaz made history for the Philippines, ending the country’s 20-year Olympic medal drought by securing a silver medal in the women’s 53-kg weightlifting division of the 2016 Summer Games on Sunday, August 7 (Monday morning, August 8 in Manila) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
On her third – and possibly her last – run at the Olympics, the 25-year-old Diaz was ready, focused, determined, but also calm. She was learned and more mature. So much so that even before reaching Rio, Diaz was already at peace with whatever fate awaited her.
A bronze was expected after her second lift, but after China failed to record a lift in the clean and jerk, the door became wide open for Diaz to climb a spot higher at the podium.
After her first clean and jerk lift, Diaz was smiling ear to ear. After her second lift, Diaz went straight over to hug her coach, Alfonsito Aldanete. And when all was said and done, Diaz, a child of Zamboanga City, was in tears.
She changed her life after a rough year in 2014 as she grew wiser and more disciplined, giving up fast food, and finally taking up the habit of stretching after training.
This was Diaz’s third Olympic participation, but it was one of many historic firsts.
Diaz is the first Filipino to win an Olympic medal since 1996, the first Filipino to medal in Olympic weightlifting, the first Filipina to earn an Olympic medal, the first non-boxer to medal for the country since 1936, and the first Olympic medalist from Mindanao.
On Sunday, August 7, a rainy Monday morning in Manila, August 8, when most of her compatriots were fast asleep, Hidilyn Diaz’s name was called in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She won the silver medal. She won an Olympic medal, finally. With that, she took one proud step up the podium, and raised both arms high up in the air. She looked like she could have been standing on a cloud.