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With tears in her eyes, Hidilyn Diaz lifted something no Filipino has before

At around 8:30 p.m. on a Monday evening when Filipinos were collectively holding their breath, Hidilyn Diaz matched an Olympic record, lifting 124kg to put herself in gold medal position in the Tokyo Olympics women's 55kg weightlifting.

Mere minutes later, however, China's Liao Qiuyun did her two better, smashing the newly established record with a 126kg lift.

With the Chinese bet blocking her way to a historic win for the Philippines, Diaz took a deep breath backstage and then sauntered back onto the platform. She had an unenviable task of going for 127kg.

Hands on the bar, she took some more seconds before going for her clean, took some more seconds to steady herself, took some more seconds to lift the weight, took some more seconds to raise the bar, took some more seconds to hold the jerk right up there for the whole world to see.

At around 8:37, Hidilyn Diaz dropped back onto the mat 127kg mostly made up of 97 years (or 96, if you're counting this as, truly, Tokyo 2020) of frustration. She had delivered the very first gold for the Philippines - and while doing so, etched her name into two Olympic records.

Tears were in her eyes.

The same scene had apparently also played out back in training. Only, those tears weren't of joy.

"I've been trying (to lift 127kg), but I've never done it," she shared with Filipino reporters in a Tuesday morning online press conference organized by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). "Every time I try it, I couldn't do it, and I cry, I get frustrated."

Yes, the final, make-or-break lift for Diaz - and for the Filipino nation right there with her - had never been done before.

Until that moment. Until that time it mattered most.

"I actually didn't expect that I would get to lift it," exclaimed Diaz. "I believe that was just God and all the people who were praying for me."

Even when she finally had the beautiful medal in her hands, the first Filipino to ever do so, it all remained surreal.

"I still couldn't believe I did it. I was surprised that I did it," she recalled. "I was very nervous, but I kept teling myself, 'I believe.'"

Make no mistake, that belief was central to Diaz's win, but she also paired it together with a lot of determination, a lot of hard work, and a lot of perseverance.

"After winning (silver) in Rio [2016], it was difficult to keep at it. There was this matrix, there were so many trials and tribulations," she narrated to Filipino reporters right there in the venue, including Frontline Pilipinas anchor Gretchen Ho, talking about a controversial document from the Philippine government that linked her to a so-called ouster plot.

The document was ultimately discredited, but still caused distraction for the pride of Zamboanga who had already sacrificed her schooling just so she could keep training for the Tokyo Olympics.

"I haven't been with my mother and father for so long now," she mentioned. "Then there was the pandemic. We got stuck in Malaysia, but God led us to people who were there to help."

Through it all, Diaz kept one thing in mind: keep fighting for the Philippines.

"Worth it. The hardships were worth it," she exclaimed. So worth it were they that for the next eight or so hours since she saluted the flag while the Philippine national anthem "Lupang Hinirang" played for the first time in an official medal ceremony, she was still awake.

Sleep only came to the first Filipino Olympic gold medalist at 5:30 a.m. the next day. And it only stayed with her for an hour and a half as, at around 8 a.m., she had to be up and at 'em again.

Diaz had to be up and at 'em to keep telling the Philippines and Filipinos that if she could do it, they could do it.

"Winning gold was never easy. It only became easier because of the people with me," she noted, giving props to conditioning coach Julius Naranjo and nutritionist Jeaneth Aro as well as POC Pres. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, Chef de Mission Mariano "Nonong" Araneta, and Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas Pres. Monico Puentevella. "I want to say this to all Filipinos: nothing is impossible."

"I know we're going through so much because of the pandemic, but look at what happened here. We did it despite the pandemic. I survived, Team HD (Hidilyn Diaz) survived, the Philippine team survived. Nothing is impossible."

And so, adorned with a tattoo of the Olympic rings on her left arm as well as golden symbols on her nails and keeping close a "miraculous medal" of Mary, the 30-year-old did the impossible, did the never-been-done-before.

Don't think for a second that this is it for her as well.

"I will focus on SEA Games and we still have a world championship coming up," she said, referring to the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games postponed to 2022 as well as the 2021 World Weightlifting Championships set to be hosted by Peru.

"I won't be stopping yet because I know I can still do it. I know I can give so much more to the Philippines together with Team HD and, of course, with the help of PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) and POC."

The gold is coming home. Two records have been set. But there remains a greater goal in Diaz's mind.

"I need to continue inspiring the young generation," she expressed. "I have to continue until there's another Filipino following in my footsteps."

Could that mean following in her footsteps of winning gold? Of rewriting record books? Of making history? Only time will tell just what exactly the second sentence means.

For the first sentence, though? There is already no question that people of the Philippines, young and old, were inspired when Hidilyn Diaz, with tears in her eyes, lifted something no Filipino has before.