RIO DE JANEIRO: Sukanya Srisurat said her Olympic gold Monday was redemption for serving a two-year-ban for doping offences as Thailand finished one-two in the women’s 58kg to lead the weightlifting medals table.
The 21-year-old lifted an Olympic record 110kg in the snatch and 130kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 240kg, comfortably beating compatriot Pimsiri Sirikaew to first place.
The International Weightlifting Federation banned Sukanya from the sport from May 2011 to May 2013 after she tested positive as a 16-year-old for the prohibited substance methandienone, an anabolic steroid.
She was one of seven young Thai weightlifters found to have violated anti-doping rules during youth and junior weightlifting championships five years ago.
“I felt so sad when I was banned but I never gave up to get back and now everything has been repaid,” she told AFP following her triumph in Rio.
“I practised so hard. This is my first Olympic Games and I’m really delighted,” she added, later insisting she’d never been at fault for the doping in the first place.
“I didn’t make the decision to take it. Our association never made a decision. It was maybe some kind of mistake,” she told reporters through a translator.
Twenty-six-year-old Pimsiri lifted 102kg in the snatch and jerked 130 for her total of 232kg to add another silver medal to the one she won at London four years ago.
Pimsiri said Sukanya had paid her dues for the doping offence and insisted she was happy to finish second to the gold medallist, despite her competitor’s previous drug use.
“Congratulations to her. We work as a team to make Thailand happy. We’re like family so it’s ok for me to finish second,” Pimsiri said.
The two podium finishes took Thailand to the top of the weightlifting medals table with four.
The kingdom has dominated the light categories so far grabbing two golds and a silver in the women’s competition and a bronze in the men’s.
Sopita Tanasan claimed gold in the women’s 48kg on Saturday while Sinphet Kruaithong finished with a bronze in the men’s 56kg the following day.
Kruaithong’s joy was short-lived as his 84-year-old grandmother collapsed and died celebrating his success.
A viral video showed the jubilant scene of cheering fans in his rural hometown transform into tragedy when Subin Khongthap collapsed while watching the competition on a projector.
“We support and encourage each other to bring out the best in all of us,” Sukanya said when asked about the reason for Thailand’s success this week.
Kuo Hsing-chun claimed bronze for Taiwan with her combined total of 231.
She hauled 102 in the snatch and 129 in the clean and jerk to comfortably make the podium, 8kg ahead of fourth placed Alexandra Escobar of Ecuador.