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ALMOST 10 months after she thrillingly claimed the Philippines' first-ever Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Summer Games, Hidilyn Diaz comfortably retained her SEA Games weightlifting gold medal in Hanoi on Friday (20 May).
The 31-year-old proved to be a cut above the rest of the women's 55kg field at the Hanoi Sports Training and Competition Center, as she successfully defended the only SEA Games gold she has won back in the 2019 Games.
She had a total lift of 206kg - 92kg in the snatch and 114kg in the clean-and-jerk - which was a far cry from her Olympic gold-winning effort of 224kg.
However, it was enough for her to claim the gold, as she withstood a gutsy challenge from Thailand's Sanikum Tanasan, who had also won the Olympic gold in the women's 48kg category at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Sanikun had set a Games record lift of 93kg in the snatch, edging ahead of Diaz, but was unable to match the Filipinos clear-and-jerk lift, managing 110kg to allow Diaz to win gold despite no lifts in her last two attempts.
Indonesia’s Natasya Beteyob earned the bronze medal with a 188kg total after lifting 84kg in snatch and 104kg in clean-and-jerk.
Diaz’s gold is the Philippines' 42nd in Hanoi, as it vies with Singapore and Indonesia for the third spot in the medal tally.
Besides her gold medal in 2019, Diaz has also won a bronze in 2007 and two silvers in 2011 and 2013 - proof of her slow and steady progress to eventually reach the pinnacle of her sport at last year's Tokyo Olympics.