Weightlifting: Tanasan takes first gold for Thailand

Sat Aug 6, 2016 10:30pm EDT
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By Brian Oliver

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Russia’s Olympic ban and China’s ruthless selection policy helped pave the way for Thailand's Sopita Tanasan win the first weightlifting gold medal of the Rio Games in the women’s 48kg on Saturday.

Tanasan, daughter of an international boxer, became Thailand’s fourth gold medalist in women’s weightlifting with a total of 200kg.

China had the favorite for the contest in Hou Zhihui, who lifted 210kg in her national championships in April, but, being allowed to enter only four lifter overall, sent her home from their pre-Games training camp in Sao Paulo last week when they decided they had a better chance in the heaviest category, +75kg.

Hou injured her knee in July but thought she had recovered enough to compete. Wang Guoxin, head coach of China’s women’s team, opted instead to send for Meng Suping. He said the decision was influenced by Russia’s ban from Rio for “bringing the sport into disrepute” with their doping record.

Once that ban was confirmed last week it meant the hot favorite in the +75kg, Tatiana Kashirina, would not compete.

"Yes, Kashirina's absence did give us a big opportunity to win in that division, because only Meng and Kashirina have the ability to lift over 300kg in total,” said Wang. Meng arrived in Rio today on Saturday.

Tanasan, 21, won by 8kg from Indonesia’s Sri Wahyuni Agustiani. In third place was Japan’s Hiromi Miyake, the 2012 silver medalist who was competing in her fourth Games.

"When asked if she would try for a fifth time in her home country at Tokyo 2020 she said, “I want to enjoy this medal now and I will think about that when I return home."   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Weightlifting - Victory Ceremony - Women's 48kg - Riocentro - Pavilion 2 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 06/08/2016. Sopita Tanasan (THA) of Thailand poses with her medal. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach