Upon his return, the Philippines will welcome an Olympic gold medalist. Hidilyn Diaz celebrates after winning the Women's 55kg Weightlifting Group A match on July 26 during the third day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The 21-year-old from Manila took top prize in Japan with a total of 271kg.
Diaz became the first Filipino athlete to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics when she topped the podium in Tokyo last month. She accomplished this feat just five years after finishing behind her countryman Kevin Murphy in the same event at the 2015 World Championships in London. "I'm really happy and honored that people recognized my effort," said Diaz who took up weightlifting two years ago. The young woman from Pasay City hopes her success will encourage more athletes to try out sports they have never tried before.
Diaz's mother Vicenta believes the key to her daughter's success is hard work. "It takes a lot of courage to start something new and her determination has brought her so far," she said. The mother also noted that it was helpful that there were other athletes in the family who could serve as role models for Hidilyn at a young age: her younger brother John Paul and sister Jenny both compete in athletics while her other sibling Jeanette plays handball.
Hidilyn Diaz, a Filipino weightlifter, won the country's first Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Diaz, who was competing in her third Olympics, earned silver in the women's 53-kg class, which was won by Chinese Taipei's Hsu Shu-Ching. Her silver medal is the Philippines' first since 1996. Before then, they had only awarded bronze medals out of respect for three previous gold winners from other countries - America's Manuel Gonzales, Sweden's Toni Lehtinen and Canada's David Smith.
The first Olympic medal awarded to the Philippines was a bronze by Gonzales in the heavyweight division at the 1936 Berlin Games. He went on to win two more bronze medals at the 1948 London Games and 1952 Helsinki Games before retiring after the 1956 Melbourne Games with him being named best boxer at the Olympics. The Philippines has never stopped since then, with no one else winning another medal until now. Hidilyn Diaz is the first woman and the first athlete from the Philippines to win an Olympic gold.
Here are the other Philippine athletes who have won medals at the Olympics:
Men's singles – No medalists yet.
Women's singles – Marivic Bautista (bronze in 1976) and Charo Soriano (silver in 1984) are the only Filipinas to win an Olympic medal so far.
The Philippines has yet to win a gold medal at the Olympics, although it has three silver medals and seven bronze medals. Ramirez predicted that Olympic weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz and world gymnastics champion Carlos Yulo will win the illusive gold medal in Rio.
As of the 2016 Summer Olympics, Filipino athletes had won a total of 10 Olympic medals, with boxing being the most medal-producing sport. At the 2008 Beijing Games, two boxers captured gold medals: Manny Pacquiao for his triumph in the flyweight division and Erik Morales for his success in the light-heavyweight division.
The Philippine Olympic Committee was founded in 1943 and recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that same year. The POC became a full member of the IOC in 1951. It took part in its first Olympic games in 1952 but withdrew after that event was canceled due to war damage.
It was not until 1964 that the Philippines sent a delegation to the Tokyo Games. However, only three athletes represented the country at the event: swimmer Beniano Bersalona, boxer Salvador Sanchez, and weightlifter Armando Valdez. All three athletes failed to win any medals. Since then, the Philippines has never missed an Olympic games.
In 1996, the Philippines ranked third in the number of participants in the Atlanta Games with 463 athletes. Boxer Manny Pacquiao led the contingent in athletics with a bronze medal in the men's lightweight division. Wrestler Erik Kurniawan also earned a bronze in the men's freestyle wrestling category.