The “weightlifting fairy” from Zamboanga, Philippines changed the country’s sporting history in her recent victory in the Tokyo Olympics 2021. 30-year-old Hidilyn Diaz competed in the women’s 55kg category on the night of July 26.

Diaz made history as the first Filipino athlete to bag a gold medal at the international sporting event. She also set an Olympic record, lifting a combined weight of 224 kilograms and the 127 kilograms she lifted in the clean and jerk event. Be that as it may, her road to Tokyo was not a piece of cake. She faced a lot of difficulties along the way, struggling to raise a budget for her training, but that did not stop her from raising her country’s flag on the grandest sporting stage. Before her win, the Philippines won only a total of 10 medals–three silver and seven bronze– since its first appearance in the Olympics almost a century ago in 1924. Indeed, Diaz’s win gave hope to a nation struggling due to the current COVID-19 crisis.

Before her recent success, Diaz already made her country proud after winning gold in the 2018 Asian Games and Roma 2020 World Cup. Those two gold medals, however, did not make her complacent, knowing that an Olympic gold would be a massive present and sign of hope for her nation.