The Philippines had never won an Olympic gold medal before Hidilyn Diaz. On Monday, July 26, the 30-year-old weightlifter beat out China's Liao Qiuyun and Kazakhstan's Zulfiya Chinshanlo by lifting a record-breaking combined weight of 224 kilograms (493.8 pounds), closing the women's 55kg division.
When she burst into tears after her win, we couldn't hold back our emotions either! We can only imagine what it must've felt like to bag a historic triumph after years and years of intense training. During her awarding ceremony, she sustained a salute to the Philippine flag as Lupang Hinirang played—a habit she presumably picked up from her post as an Airwoman Sergeant for the Philippine Air Force.
In the hours following her triumph, the Zamboanga-born athlete received an outpouring of congratulations online from Filipinos everywhere. Hidilyn surely made the nation proud!
In case you didn't know, Hidilyn wasn't the only history-making Filipina onstage during her eventful winning ceremony. We found out that it was none other than Mikee Cojuangco who handed her the gold medal!
Multi-hyphenate Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski is the first Asian woman in history to be elected into the International Olympics Committee Executive Board, where she will serve a five-year term. Apart from having worked as a model and actress, she is a celebrated, world-class equestrienne. She won the gold medal in the individual jumping event during the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, at the age of 28.
This context makes Hidilyn's awarding moment more special. After 97 years in the making, the Philippines finally adds an Olympic gold medal to its belt, warmed by the hands of two accomplished Filipina athletes. July 26, 2021 will definitely go down as a cherised, historic day for every Filipina with a dream.
Congratulations again, Hidilyn! We are endlessly proud of you.
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