[Finally!] Hidilyn Diaz wins a weightlifting silver for PHL


(Editor’s note: The competition was watched on television)


MANILA (Updated 9:48 am)–Hidilyn Diaz only expected a bronze medal but she snatched a silver after a favored Chinese lifter missed all her three attempts in the clean and jerk at the women’s 53 kg. weightlifting competitions of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Diaz hoisted a 200 kg. total –88 kgs. in the snatch and 112 kgs. in the clean and jerk– to place third with only Li Hayun of China and Hsu Shu-Ching of Chinese Taipei slugging it out for the gold.

Hidilyn Diaz, in this file photo from the International Weightlifting Federation, wins a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games.

Hidilyn Diaz, in this file photo from the International Weightlifting Federation, wins a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games.

Diaz’s feat also made her the first Filipina to win an Olympic medal. Bowler Arianne Cerdeña won gold in bowling in 1988 (Seoul) and Bea Lucero won a bronze in taekwondo in 1992 (Barcelona) but their sports were only exhibition sports, thus these are not counted in the official medal count.

Diaz struggled in the snatch as her 88 kg. lift was good for only sixth place. Li lifted 101 kgs. in the snatch for an Olympic record, while Hsu hoisted 100 kgs.

Diaz was successful in her first attempt at the clean and jerk at 112 kgs., but she cannot lift the 117 kg. bar she tried to set in her second and third attempts.

Hsu got 112 kgs. in her first clean and jerk attempt. Li actually was able to lift 123 kg. but the judges nullified the attempt on a technicality.

Li then tried 126 kg. in her second attempt but missed. In desperation, Li tried again at 126 kg. but wasn’t able to complete it. Hsu wisely did not attempt another lift.

And since weightlifting rules state that three missed attempts at either the snatch or clean and jerk will lead to the lifter’s disqualification, Li bombed out of the medal race and Korea’s Yoon Jin Hee got a lucky bronze with a 199 kg. total.

Yoon engaged Diaz in a battle as the Korean tried to lift 112 kg. on her third try but to no avail, but Yoon was able to hoist 111 kgs. in her second attempt.

The feat marks a fairy tale ending for Diaz, a product of the University of Zamboanga whose first Olympics, in Beijing eight years ago competing in the 58 kg. class, saw her as a 17 year old competitor.

Diaz’s silver matched the feat of light-flyweight boxer Mansueto Velasco at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. But Diaz’s medal ended a 20-year medal drought for the country.

Diaz’s total is a far cry from her 215 kg. best total lift at the Asian Championships in Phuket in 2015, or the 213 kg. total that won for her a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships in Houston.

On her missed third and final attempt at the clean and jerk, Diaz smiled and hugged her coaches, knowing that the bronze medal is secured. That was until Li’s three missed attempts.

At the medal podium, Diaz had her two hands raised for around four seconds, and could not believe the moment: “Wow!” she said, afterwards she waived to the crowd.

Days leading to the August 7 competition in Rio, Diaz was jolly in showing through Facebook live the practice gym and some of the sights in Rio de Janeiro. And after the medal ceremony, on Facebook live, a teary-eyed Diaz said: “Thank you! Thank you! Kakaiba ka, Lord (You are one of a kind, Lord)!”

Make Filipino weightlifter, Nestor Colonia, missed all his clean and jerk attempts in the men’s 56 kg. class. and did not finish.


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About Jeremaiah Opiniano