Philippines celebrates Hidilyn Diaz's silver medal in Rio 2016 Olympics

Hidilyn Diaz has broken the 20 years drought of the Philippines in Olympics by capturing the silver medal in the 53-kilogram class weight lifting at Riocentro Pavilion 2 in Rio. It was also the first medal of the Philippines in the Olympics in two decades.

Diaz became the fifth athlete to win an Olympic medal since 1964 and the third to take a silver.

Should the Philippines bag another podium finish, it will be the first time since the 1932 games that the country will finish with multiple medals. But what followed next was short of surreal as a Chinese lifter bound for a gold medal finish failed on her three attempts at the clean and jerk, taking her out of the medal race, and turning Diaz's bronze into a silver medal.

The President earlier challenged the 13-man Philippine contingent to the Rio Olympics to give their all for the honor of the country. Since bowling was only included as an exhibition sport at the games, however, her win isn't considered in the medal score count.

"In the many years that I was POC president, it's the first time we held a send-off for the athletes in Malacañang", said Cojuangco.

She was also the Philippines' flag bearer in 2012.

"I hope we can still win here", said Diaz, who called on Filipino sports fans to continue supporting the others who are still in the medal hunt.

Diaz made the call the day after Rogen Ladon was eliminated in the first round of the boxing competitions following a unanimous decision loss to Yurbejen Martinez of Colombia. The 25-year old, standing 1.58m and weighing less than 53kg now, was assured of at least a bronze when the competition was in the closing stages. The other officials who were there included International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco Jaworski, her predecessor, Frank Elizalde, POC officers Steve Hontiveros and Julian Camacho, and former Philippine weightlifting head Monico Puentevella.

"Don't give up. Continue the fight and give your best", said Diaz, now the newest toast of Philippine sports, which has always been searching for a new hero in the mold of Manny Pacquiao. "People and officials kept encouraging me despite not getting into the top three in Beijing and London", Hidilyn added while speaking to an official TV commentator.

Diaz, a member of the Philippine Air Force, dedicated the win to her mother, Emelita, who celebrated her 53rd birthday Sunday.

  • Joey Payne