Thai lifter creates Olympic history
An Olympic record of 110 kilograms in the snatch section helped 21-year-old Sukanya Srisurat become the youngest ever Olympic champion in the women’s 58kg weightlifting event as she and fellow Thai lifter Pimsiri Sirikaew took respective gold and silver at Rio 2016 yesterday.
There were tears of joy too, later in the evening at the Riocentro, as Oscar Figueroa earned Colombia its first gold medal in a men’s weightlifting event with a bold and tactical performance in the 62kg category in which he took silver at the London 2012 Games.
Figueroa, who took full advantage of the last-minute withdrawal – reportedly for cramp – made by China’s world champion Chen Lijun, finished with a total of 318kg, six kg clear of Indonesia’s bronze medallist of four years ago, Eko Yuli Irawan, who became the first lifter to win three Olympic medals since the introduction of the current weight categories in 1998 following his 56kg bronze at the Beijing 2008 Games.
The Thai pair always looked likely to dominate proceedings in the women’s final – Sirikaew, the London 2012 silver medallist was back in this category having switched down from 63kg, and her rising star of a compatriot had established her huge potential by winning world junior titles in 2014 and 2015.
Srisurat’s Olympic record gave her an eight kilogram lead as the competition moved into its clean-and-jerk phase, and although Sirikaew matched her best effort of 130kg there she had to settle for a second Olympic silver ahead of Chinese Taipei’s Asian champion Hsing-Chun Kuo, who earned bronze, one kg behind Sirikaew with a total of 231kg.
Asked to comment on the 8kg buffer she established at the halfway point, Srisurat responded: “I plan everything I do – when I practise I make sure it is exactly what I do.
“Today I did everything in the right order and I just followed my own course.
“I am very happy – I never thought I could do it.
“This is my first time at the Olympics, so I am very happy to win a gold medal and bring it back to Thailand.
“I practised very, very hard. It took a lot of persistence and perseverance to be able to stand here.”
Sirikaew, whose tears at the end seemed to spring from joy rather than sorrow as officials congratulated her, commented: “I just want to say congratulations to the gold medallist.
“We work as a team, so it is all right to be the silver medallist because we are both on the Thailand national team.
“We are like a family, so everything is fine.
“Everyone fights for the gold medal, so it is all right.”
On the subject of Thailand’s weightlifting success here – they already have four medals – Sirikaew – who is only the third lifter to take two Olympic medals in this event – said: “I am so happy to be one of them, because we are representing the Thai people and Thailand.
“There are 60 million people (in Thailand).
“We are happy to be a few of the people who can make Thai people happy.”
Kuo, whose audacious effort to take victory by lifting a world record of 139kg with her final effort ended in predictable failure, nevertheless brought home Chinese Taipei’s first Olympic medal in this event.
A snatch lift of 142kg had given the Figueroa the lead at the halfway stage of the men’s 62kg – on body weight over Irawan, who managed the same weight.
The event tipped in Colombian’s favour with his first effort in the clean-and-jerk as he cleared 172kg, 2kg more than Irawan’s first effort, following up with a lift of 176kg which the Indonesian, now under intense pressure, failed to match.
Irawan gambled, as he had to, on overhauling the Colombian with a last effort of 179kg, which would have been a world record, but couldn’t manage it.
Figueroa didn’t need to, but he also had a go at the world record, which, again, proved unsuccessful.
But he had already become only the third Colombian to win two Olympic medals at any sport following wrestler Jackeline Renteria and shooter Helmut Bellingrodt.