Diaz had an excellent day when she defeated heavyweight Qiuyun Liao (China) in the women’s under 55 kg weightlifting final to win the gold medal. This is also the first gold medal of the Philippine sports delegation in the history of participating in the Olympics.
Diaz burst into tears after completing the exam, and also while receiving the medal. Behind the tears is the sacrifice, effort, and long-term effort of the Filipino athlete.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Diaz finished second in the women’s under 53 kg category. Entering the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the difficulties and pressures will certainly increase. Chinese athlete Qiuyun Liao is really a strong opponent.
Liao holds the world record in the women’s under 53 kg category. The Chinese athletes also won 3 gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics, weightlifting. No team can keep up with them.
However, when competing, Diaz played with high form and great spirit. At the age of 30, the Filipino athlete has great determination. Every time Diaz lifts weights, her face exudes great confidence.
Diaz and Liao have a tense rivalry. With Liao reaching a total of 223 kg, only 4 kg less than his own world record, Diaz faced a huge challenge in the final race.
At that time, Diaz decided to register a weight of 127 kg. If she lifts successfully, she will win gold, otherwise, she will only win silver. The pressure was great, but in the end, Diaz still succeeded.
In the end, Diaz achieved a total of 224 kg, exactly 1 kg more than the Chinese athlete, to win the gold medal in this content. This is the historic gold medal of Philippine sports. For the first time in history, they won gold in an Olympics.
Five years ago, Diaz was considered a hero, and a sports star of the Philippines after winning silver at Rio 2016. It was the Philippines’ first Olympic medal in 20 years. Before that, they won 1 silver and 1 bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The 2016 Rio Olympics also marked the first time in history that a Filipino weightlifter stood on the podium to receive a medal. But Diaz doesn’t stop there. With effort and determination, she was able to change the color of the gold medal at the age of 30.
“I don’t know what to say. Dreams come true. I just want to say that Filipinos are very strong. We can compete in the Olympics. We can do it,” Diaz said.
“Dream big. That’s how I started. I dreamed of the best and I was finally able to do it.”
In addition to winning gold, Diaz also set a new Olympic record with a total weight of 224 kg. She admitted: “I didn’t know I set an Olympic record and couldn’t believe I was on the Olympic record list.”
Diaz could not hide her feelings with unexpected success. Tears were shed while the golden girl of the Philippines completed the competition and also while receiving the medal.
It was a really moving image. But behind the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics is the story of Diaz’s energy and determination.
To achieve success, this female athlete had to make a lot of sacrifices as well as go through arduous training days. It became even more meaningful when she won at the age that is not considered the most fit in her career as a professional athlete.
After hiring a new coach, Diaz moved to Malaysia to practice since 2019. However, the pandemic appeared to make her practice away from home and could not see her family for more than a year and a half.
According to journalist Daniel Hicks of Yahoo Sports, Diaz is not allowed to enter the gym and access some equipment due to Covid-19 prevention regulations. In other words, Diaz did not have the best training conditions.
To solve problems, Diaz makes use of everyday objects. She hangs 2 water jugs on a bamboo stick to practice.
“No dumbbells. No problem. Bamboo sticks and 2 large water bottles are enough,” she wrote on her personal page about the unusual method.
Because of the Covid-19 epidemic, Diaz was stuck in an apartment in Malaysia, having to lift weights carefully to avoid cracking the tile floor. And above all, she always has to maintain a diet.
“Yes, I will definitely eat to my heart’s content. I sacrifice a lot. This is the time to celebrate with the people behind me. Really thankful that I can eat comfortably now,” Diaz revealed after her victory.
Diaz is said to have planned to eat cheesecake and drink milk tea. A very mundane desire, as a reward for oneself, after having to fast and avoid consuming favorite foods for a long time.
Five years ago at the Rio Olympics, Diaz ended a 20-year medal drought for the Philippine Sports Delegation. And at this Tokyo Olympics, the 30-year-old girl did even better.
The gold medal is the pinnacle of every athlete’s career. Diaz has enjoyed the sweet fruit of participating in the 4th, and perhaps the last, Olympics in her life.
Sweat and tears have been shed, now it’s time for Diaz to enjoy her victory.