RIOÂ – Thailand’s Sopita Tanasan blew away the opposition to grab the first gold medal of the weightlifting competition at the Rio Games on Saturday (Aug 6).
The 21-year-old dominated the women’s 48kg, lifting 92kg in the snatch and 108kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 200kg to finish first in weightlifting’s lightest category.
Pint-sized Sopita, a regular lifter in the 53kg class, took full advantage of the withdrawal through injury this week of hot Chinese favourite Hou Zhihui to win with ease.
The 5 ft 1 inch Thai lifted 8kg more than silver medallist Sri Wahyuni Agustiani of Indonesia while evergreen Japanese lifter Hiromi Mayake took bronze with a total of 188kg.
Sopita is the fourth women’s weightlifter from Thailand to win an Olympic gold medal.
The weightlifting got under way at the the 6,000-capacity Riocentro Pavilion 2 under a cloud of doping after it was reported earlier in the day that Cypriot weightlifter Antonis Martasides had been sent home from the Olympic Games after failing a drugs test.
The Cyprus Mail said on its website that Martasides had tested positive for a banned substance following an out-of-competition test on July 25 in Athens.
Martasides’ credential for Rio was revoked following the test. Weightlifting has long been plagued by doping scandals.
Russia and Bulgaria, both traditional powerhouses, are banned from the weightlifting competition in Rio for repeated doping offences.
The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) also punished North Korea, Romania, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Moldova by reducing their allocation of lifters.