Watching some of the world’s greatest athletes perform superhuman feats is a beloved pastime and there's no better way to do just that than by tuning into the Olympic Games. Beyond a global sports event, the Summer Olympics is also a prime opportunity to witness history in the making—and the events of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are no exception. On July 26, female weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history for the Philippines, winning the country its first Olympic gold medal in the nearly 100 years that the nation has been participating in the Games.
The competition between Diaz and China’s Liao Qiuyun was quite close—with both women lifting 97 kg (about 214 lbs.) in the first-round snatch lift and Diaz lifting 127 kg (nearly 280 lbs.) to Liao’s 126 kg (almost 278 lbs.) in the clean and jerk. But Diaz ultimately clinched the win with her last lift, beating Liao by just one kilo and taking the gold in the women’s 55-kg weightlifting category. In the process, she also managed to set an Olympic record with a combined total weight of 224 kg (roughly 494 lbs.) lifted between two successful attempts.
This isn’t Diaz’s first time making history either, as she became the Philippines' first-ever female Olympic medalist when she won silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics. And her path to the gold has been one paved with dedication and sacrifice. Introduced to weightlifting as a young girl, she trained with homemade weights made from plastic pipes and concrete until several organizations noticed her passion and donated barbells for her to practice with. Due to her talent and zeal, she was chosen to represent the Philippines for the first time at the Beijing 2008 Olympics when she was just 17 years old.
Now, the 2020 Games have brought the Olympian’s journey full circle, rewarding her hard work with the cherished fruits of her labors. “I sacrificed a lot,” Diaz recalled after her groundbreaking win. “I wasn’t able to be with my mother and father for how many months and years and then, of course, training was excruciating. But God had a plan.”