RIO DE JANEIRO- Like a thief in the night, when no one was looking, Hidilyn Diaz made history for the Philippines.
The Zamboanga City native won the silver medal of the women's 53kg weightlifting with a total of 210kg at the Rio Olympic Games here on Sunday, ending the country's 20-year Olympic medal drought and becoming the first ever Filipina medalist in the games.
That’s not all.
Diaz’s silver was also the first non-boxing medal from the Philippines since 1936. “I wanted to quit. Now, my sacrifices have paid off,” said a tearful Diaz at the medal ceremonies.
The Philippines’ last Olympic medal came in the Atlanta Games in 1996 when Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco settled for a silver in boxing.
Diaz is a veteran of three Olympics despite her youth.
She impressed critics in her Olympic debut in Beijing eight years ago despite coming up empty-handed.
In London four years later, she failed on all her clean and jerk attempts, prompting her to move down to the lighter class for Rio, which had just seven competitors.
Hsu Shu-ching of Chinese Taipei won the gold and the bronze went to Yoon Jin Hee of South Korea
"I am very happy and very excited," said.
Indeed, she must be, as a cash windfall of at least P5 million awaits her when she comes home to the Philippines. Plus, she is just 25, enough for another tour of duty in the next Olympics in Tokyo, Japan where she could be ripe for the gold.
The other Filipino weightlifter in Nestor Colonia failed in all of his three attempts at 154 kg in the clean and jerk, placing 6th in snatch with a 120-kg lift.