Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz has ended the Philippines' 97-year wait for a gold medal after winning the women’s 55kg in style.
Diaz was overcome with emotion after her win as the Air Force servicewoman made history for her country, with boxing legend Manny Pacquiao sending his congratulations to the new Olympic champion.
The 30-year-old pipped China’s Liao Qiuyun to gold on her final lift with a personal best some 97 years after the Philippines' first appearance at a Games.
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Diaz is already a national hero back home having ended a 20-year medal drought at Rio 2016 when she won silver in the 53kg class.
“It's unbelievable, it's a dream come true,” Diaz told AFP.
I want to say to the young generation in the Philippines, 'You can have this dream of gold too'.
“This is how I started and finally I was able to do it.”
She added: “I'm looking forward to enjoying life because I have been in Malaysia for, I don't know, almost two years, so I'm really thankful I can go home now and celebrate with my family and the people who support me.”
The Philippines has just 11 medals in their Olympic history and Diaz was faced with a daunting task after Liao came within four kilograms of her own world record.
Diaz needed a final clean and jerk of 127kg to win, which was 5kg more than she had ever managed to lift in competition.
After bursting into tears before she even dropped the bar, Diaz cried again as she stood on the podium and saluted her country’s flag.
Diaz is the only woman from the Philippines to win an Olympic medal and becomes just the second athlete from her country to win two medals.
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After narrowly missing out on gold, China’s Liao heaped praise on her rival.
"I really respect Diaz as an opponent because she did the best she could, in fact better than that and that is the ultimate," Liao said.
"She did a better job and it is nice for all the people that were supporting her."
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