Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first ever Olympic gold medallist from the Philippines and used water bottles to train for her Olympic glory during the pandemic.
Diaz, who broke down in tears as her country’s national anthem was played, was forced to build her own DIY gym when she became stuck in Malaysia because of a Covid-19 outbreak.
She was stranded in the country in April 2020 on her way to Peru for an Olympic qualifying even when a government travel ban went into place.
Diaz made use of everyday objects, including two water bottles hanging from a bamboo pole to keep training.
“No barbel, No problem. Bamboo stick and 2 big bottles of water,” she wrote on an Instagram video of the unusual method.
Diaz also posted video of herself sprinting up ramps in a car park to keep in top shape.
“Not being able to train and stuck at home quarantine has been very difficult for me. But I must stay proactive and find ways to keep me moving,” she wrote.
The 30-year-old won the women’s 55kg category for weightlifting on Monday, and in doing so ended her country’s 97-year drought for a gold.
In her fourth Olympics, the 30-year-old lifted a combined weight of 224 kg, an Olympic record.
“I am 30 years old and I thought it would be like going down, my performance, but I was shocked I was able to do it,” Diaz said in a post-match interview.
Philippines’ presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement that she had brought glory to the country.
“Congratulations, Hidilyn. The entire Filipino nation is proud of you,” he added.
Diaz shed tears but stood to attention and saluted as she proudly sang her country’s national anthem during the medal ceremony.
She says she plans to compete again at the Paris Games in 2024.
China’s Liao Qiuyun won silver with 223 kg, and Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Chinshanlo won bronze with 213 kg.
It is not the first Olympic medal for Diaz, who is a sergeant in the Philippine Air Force.
At the 2016 Rio Games, she won the silver medal to make her the first medalist ever for the Philippines.