TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Philippines is bringing home its first gold medal after competing in the Olympic games for nearly 100 years.
Hidilyn Diaz made history Monday after winning the 55 kilogram category of women’s weightlifting. It’s a win that has everyone in her home country excited.
“Poor, middle class, rich or the elite, we are one happy family when it comes to Hidilyn winning the gold,” said Joey Omila with the Philippine Cultural Foundation.
At 4 feet 11 inches tall, Diaz not only won the 55 kilogram category of women’s weightlifting, she also set an Olympic record with her combined weight of 224 kg (nearly 500 lbs.) across two successful lifts. The gold medal contest came down to Diaz’s last lift while going head-to-head with China.
According to her Olympic bio, Diaz has been weightlifting since 11 years old. She often trained in other countries due to lack of access to proper training in the Philippines.
Locals across Tampa Bay in the Philippine Cultural Foundation say this win means a lot to the country.
“People are wondering whether we actually had an Olympic team and now she has put us on the map for good, so it’s fantastic,” said Angel Biglete.
“When it comes to celebrations, Filipinos (are) number one in the world,” Omila said. “She will be received like she has given honor to the country, honor to the current president. Every Filipino is proud.”
When Diaz gets back to the Philippines she will receive nearly $35 million worth of gifts: $10 million will come from the government and the rest from the private sector. She will get a special surprise from the president, a new condominium, a housing lot, a lifetime of free flights from Filipino Air and more.
The Tampa Bay Philippine Cultural Foundation will also celebrate Diaz’s win at their annual festival in November.