Diaz said she was "thankful" for winning gold during the pandemic. "It's a really big thing for me and all the Filipinos, because we didn't have gold for 97, 96 years," she said.
Having bagged the silver medal at Rio’s 2016 Olympic Games, Diaz outperformed top contender Liao Qiuyun, the Chinese reigning Asia champion who was deemed a frontrunner in the events lead up.
Only two years ago, Diaz was subject to public mocking after she spoke about a lack of support for athletes by the country's government.
But with her record-breaking 127-kilogram lift, Diaz’s performance has ignited excitement in Filipino communities around the world.
28-year-old Filipino woman Marla Morris, currently in Australia as an international student, told SBS News that the win was inspirational to women with Filipino heritage around the world.
“Our president is blatantly telling that women can't lead, women have no power, women can't do this, can't do that. As a Filipino and as a girl, seeing that this Filipina won, it made me proud and I cried as well,” Ms Morris said.
It was a sentiment shared by Jasmine Leggo, a weightlifter from Shoalhaven, with Filipino lineage who said the gold medal was heartening.
“You can’t put feeling like that into words. When you feel such pride and happiness for someone who has accomplished that… what more can you say other than it’s an amazing feeling,” she said.
The second youngest of six siblings, Diaz grew up in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga.
She competed in the Olympic Games for the first time in 2008 at Beijing; at 17 years old, she was the youngest female weightlifter in the competition
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been training in Malaysia to avoid the rising case numbers.
The Philippines has competed in all but one edition of the Summer Olympics since 1943, having previously secured three silver and seven bronze medals before Diaz’s win.
Source: MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images
Diaz's win marks the first time the country has made an appearance on the Olympic podium in 20 years.
The accomplishment will no doubt propel her to stardom in her home country, making her a national hero for generations to come.