ZAMBOANGA CITY: Mayor Maria Isabelle "Beng" Climaco-Salazar led the celebration for the victory of Zamboangueña weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz for winning the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal on Monday in Tokyo.

Climaco-Salazar also called on fellow Zamboangueños to offer prayers for Diaz's feat.

"Con Dios todo gloria y abrazos de La Virgen del Pilar y San Jose. Gracias por tu fuerza y Inspiracion Hidy! Hija de Zamboanga (To God be the glory and with the grace of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, thank you for your efforts and inspiration Hidy, the daughter of Zamboanga)," she said in a statement posted on her Facebook page.

"Zamboanga's pride. Our home-grown Olympian Hidilyn Diaz makes history again as the Philippines' first Olympic gold medalist at the weightlifting women's 55kg event at the Tokyo Olympics! Enhorabuena (congratulations)! We are proud of you, Hidilyn!" the mayor added.

Climaco-Salazar was not immediately available for an interview, but one of her aides said the mayor was ecstatic and nearly cried after watching Diaz win the gold medal.

"She was literally jumping, very happy and almost cried. The mayor was emotional because it not only gave us our first gold medal, but pride for all Filipinos and the country," the aide told The Manila Times by phone.

Local restaurateur and bodybuilder Pedro Alavar said Diaz's win brings pride to all Filipinos.

"It brings us honor and pride. She's been practicing all her life and she deserves it," he said.

"This is an honor for the country and we have a Zamboangueña weightlifter Olympic gold medalist," said Sammy Dantes, who works out at the Sky Gym here.

Diaz's family could not be immediately contacted for a statement, but in August 2018 when she won a gold medal in the Asian Games in Jakarta, her father, a former motorcycle taxi driver, Eduardo said: "It was God's answer to our prayers and we thanked God for the graces he showered us, especially Hidilyn, who really trained hard for these games."

He said Hidilyn gave him enough money to start a small fish pond business in their village, Mampang, about 10 kilometers from downtown Zamboanga. Diaz also built a small gym in her village where fledgling weightlifters can train.

"I now take care of our fish pond, it is not too big, just about two hectares," Eduardo said.

His tricycle, which bears a painting of Hidilyn lifting a barbell, was then being driven by a relative. The family also has a small car which was given by the Universidad de Zamboanga to Hidilyn for winning silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Eduardo said his daughter started lifting weights at the age of 9 and had been training hard with her cousins in the family's backyard and sometimes in a private gym if she had extra money.

"She started training at nine years old with her cousins, who influenced her to join them and lift weights," he said.