by Bryle Suralta
The Philippines bagged its first Olympic medal in 20 years after weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz came in second to win silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil during the women’s 53kg weightlifting category last August 8.
This is the country’s first medal since Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco, who won during the 1996 games in Atlanta for boxing.
Diaz, who has competed in the last two Olympics, came to the weightlifting category as one of the unlikelier names to take home honors.
Going into the 53kg event, Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Shu-Ching and China’s Li Yajun were favored to win in the tourney – everybody else was thought to only be gunning for third.
“Bronze lang talaga yung aim namin ng coach ko,” Diaz told reporters from CNN Philippines.
The level of competition was set from the start as Li Yajun set an Olympic record in the snatch after tallying a total of 101 kilograms with two attempts left in the clean and jerk.
The Zamboanga native, on the other hand, only put up 88kg which was good enough for fifth on the ranking board.
One of her more favored competitors, Hsu Shu-Ching followed by totalling 100kg of her own.
In the clean and jerk portion of the event, the Filipina cleared 111kg on her first try that forced South Korea’s Yoon Jin to successfully manage 111kg of her own to try to secure a spot in the podium.
Diaz was not to be outdone as she bounced back with a 112kg lift on her second attempt to pass third-frontrunner Yoon Jun Hee to assure herself a podium finish.
Shu-Ching then logged 112kg on her first try to put her in sole position for the gold.
China’s Li wasn’t fazed by the logs on the scoreboard as she tried to lift 123kg to put her above the competition. She failed to lift the weights due to a hyperextended left elbow that forced her out of the event because she could not lift – therefore, she was not capable to compete.
Her injury automatically put Hidilyn Diaz in second place for the silver, while South Korea’s Yoon Jin and Chinese Taipe’s Hsu Shu-Ching bagged bronze and gold honors respectively.
Diaz is the first Filipina to bring home a medal to the country and is also the first FIlipino to compete in three straight Olympics.