Hidilyn Diaz becomes Philippines’ first female Olympic medallist

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Hidilyn Diaz becomes Philippines’ first female Olympic medallist

The tears flowed freely as Hidilyn Diaz accepted her silver medal - and for good reason.

On Sunday at the Riocentro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the weightlifter became the first ever female athlete from the Philippines to win an Olympic medal.

The 25-year-old took silver in the women’s 53-kg division, ending the country’s 20-year medal drought and also became the first Filipino to medal in weightlifting.

Philippines’ last Olympic medal came from the 1996 Atlanta Games through Mansueto Velasco’s silver in boxing.

The Zamboanga native, taking part in her third straight Olympics since debuting in Beijing 2008 on a wildcard at 17, recorded 88kg in the snatch and 112kg in the clean and jerk for a combined total of 200kg.

That was good enough for second place, behind Taiwan’s Hsu Shu-Ching (212kg) and ahead of Korean Yoon Jin Hee (199kg).

"I have tried so hard. I have stumbled many times," Diaz was quoted in the Philstar. "I wanted to quit, but now all of my sacrifices have paid off."

Having competed in the 58kg class in the previous two Games, Diaz dropped down to the lighter 53kg class this time in Rio to improve her medal chances. She started her qualifying attempts in 2014 and won gold at the 2015 Asian championships, while sealing her Olympic spot by taking bronze in the 2015 IWF world championship.

This is expected to be Diaz’s last Olympics as she will head to the United States to accept a university scholarship after Rio.