RIO DE JANEIRO — Filipina Hidilyn Diaz won the silver medal of the women’s 53kg class in weightlifting with a total of 200kg at Rio on Sunday, ending the country’s 20-year Olympic medal drought. This is the country’s first medal in weightlifting and first in 20 years since Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco won silver in boxing in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
A tearful and thankful Diaz, who is from Zambaonga, won silver after failing to medal in the last two Olympics. She debuted in the 58kg class in the 2008 Beijing Games as a 17-year-old and impressed many with her potential. At London, she failed on all her clean and jerk attempts after an impressive start in the snatch. Diaz dropped down to the lighter class for Rio, which had just seven competitors.
“I have tried so hard. I have stumbled many times,” Diaz recalled. “I wanted to quit, but now all of my sacrifices have paid off.”
It was an exciting competition. Hsu Shu-ching of Chinese Taipei won the gold and the bronze went to Yoon Jin Hee of South Korea. Hsu won her first Olympic gold medal Sunday when Li Yajun of China failed in all her attempts in the clean and jerk. Li set an Olympic record in the first round snatch by lifting 101 kilograms to take the lead into the clean and jerk and was the last lifter to compete in the second round, needing a lift 126 kilos to win gold. Diaz meanwhile, actually failed in 2 of her 3 attempts in the snatch, finally lifting 88kg. The Filipina recovered nicely in the 2nd discipline with a 2nd attempt of 112kg, matching Hsu.
Hsu successfully lifted 100 kilos in snatch and 112 in clean and jerk for a total of 212 kilos. Hsu is the reigning world champion and won silver four years ago at the London Games. Interestingly, London gold winner Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan failed a doping retest and could have that medal revoked, which would then be awarded to Hsu. She exclaimed: “I am very happy and very excited.” Yoon, in turn, had a total of 199kg and was the defending silver from the 2008 Beijing Games.
Diaz at 25 years old, was a bronze medalist in the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships and is a member of the POC Atheltes’ Commission.
Mabuhay ka, Hidilyn!
In other fronts: Ian Lariba, the Philippine flag-bearer during Friday’s opening at Maracana Stadium, fell to Xing Han of Congo, 11-7, 13-7, 11-9, 11-7, in a morning table tennis match.
Jessie Lacuna, a 22-year-old student at Ateneo, was sixth among seven swimmers in Heat 2 with a slow time of 4:01.70, way off his personal best of 3:55:34.
Boxer Charly Suarez lost by a close and heart breaking split decision to Joe Cordina. Suarez won in the eyes of the referee from Turkey, 29-28, but lost in the cards of those from Morocco (29-28) and Uzbekistan (30-27). It was a painful loss for Suarez, who was shorter by three inches to the GBR boxer’s 5’9”. The PHI corner, including Suarez himself, thought he did enough to win.