Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made Olympic history in the  women's 55kg category, becoming the Philippines first ever gold medal winner at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first Olympic gold medallist for the Philippines when she made a dramatic final lift at the Tokyo International Forum.

Diaz won the women's 55-kilogram category in sensational style, making her final attempt to defeat the Chinese favourite and world record holder, Liao Qiuyun.

Diaz made 97-127-224 to beat Liao by 1kg.

She is the first non-Chinese weightlifting gold medallist at Tokyo 2020.

The 30-year-old was voted her nation's top sports star after winning a silver medal at Rio 2016 - the first Olympic medal in any sport for the Philippines in 20 years and the first time a Filipino weightlifter stood on the Olympic podium.

She was in tears almost as soon as the bar hit the floor after the successful final lift of 127kg, and even her coaches were overcome by emotion.

Zulfiya Chinshanlo, who was one of four Kazakhstan gold medallists disqualified for doping at the London 2012 Olympic Games, took the bronze.

Diaz was competing at her fourth Olympic Games, having been unplaced in Beijing and London.

She finished in second place in the old 53kg weight class in Rio.

She found the qualifying process extremely tough but Diaz knew, through all her hard work, there was one target above all others.

"I just really need to beat the Chinese athletes," she said after qualifying.

"It’s a challenging path but I know I can do it."

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz received a statement from the Philippines Presidential Palace after winning the country's first Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz received a statement from the Philippines Presidential Palace after winning the country's first Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

That much became clear after only two lifts, by which time Diaz had shown she was in top form.

Her second snatch of 97kg was her best since she lifted in the old 58kg category at London 2012.

Like Liao, who holds world records for clean and jerk and total, Diaz missed only one of her six attempts.

The top two trailed Uzbekistan’s Muattar Nabieva by 1kg after the snatch, but they pulled well clear in the clean and jerk as Nabieva and the Ukrainian challenger Kamila Konotop dropped to fourth and fifth place.

Liao must have thought she had done enough when she made her final attempt at 126kg, but Diaz outdid her with that last lift.

She is the first Filipina athlete to win medals at two Olympic Games.

Diaz told Olympics.com last year her silver in Rio led to "a lot of motorcades, a lot of opportunities for endorsements and sponsors, and an opportunity to increase awareness about weightlifting, because it’s my really big dream to have a lot more weightlifters after me."

Between the London 2012 Games, where she was the Philippines’ flag bearer, and the start of qualifying for Tokyo, Diaz competed in four different bodyweight categories – the old 53kg, 58kg and 63kg, and the new 55kg.

Cutting weight has always been a challenge for Diaz – "I love our food in the Philippines," she said – and she had to cut off her hair to lose a few more grams before weighing in at the 2015 IWF World Championships.

She struggled at times during qualifying, especially during lockdown when she was training far away from home in Malaysia.

"It was hard - the mental part, the physical part, the emotional part," she said.

A statement from the Presidential Palace was issued within minutes of her victory.

It said: "The Palace congratulates Hidilyn Diaz for bringing pride and glory to the Philippines for winning the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal.

"Congratulations, Hidilyn. 

"The entire Filipino nation is proud of you."