Philippines Female Weightlifter Wins the Country's First-Ever Gold Medal: 'It's Unbelievable'
"I expected to win, but when you hold this already, it's like, 'Wow, I never thought this would happen today,' " Hidilyn Diaz said afterward
Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz keeps making history at the Summer Olympics.
After Diaz won a silver medal at the Rio Games in 2016, becoming the first Philippines woman to make it to the podium, she appeared in Tokyo on Monday and triumphed in the women's 55kg event, visibly exulting at her victory.
She lifted more weight — 127kg — than ever before, she said.
"It's unbelievable," she said afterward. "I expected to win, but when you hold this already, it's like, 'Wow, I never thought this would happen today.' "
Her gold is the first-ever for her country. "So happy," her mom told a local media outlet in the Philippines not long after.
The two have not seen each other for more than a year, because of COVID-19, but Diaz's mom has been messaging words of support: "Good luck ... I miss you," she wrote.
Diaz, 30, is the first woman from the Philippines to win multiple medals; she joins Teófilo Yldefonso, who won two bronzes in breaststroke swimming nearly a century ago.
And she is now one of only three Filipino Olympians to compete in at least four Games.
According to The New York Times, she picked up weightlifting at 11 — first with wood and car parts and even concrete — and began competing in the Games in 2008, at 17.
"I want to say to the [Filipino] people that we can do it. We are proud," she told reporters on Monday.
"I know that Zamboanga [her home city] is really proud of me and all of the Philippines is," Diaz said. "I did not give up during the pandemic. I am really thankful. Winning the gold medal is a really big thing for me and all of the Philippine people."
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.