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Thailand got their first Olympic gold in Rio as Sopita Tanasan won the women’s 48kg weightlifting. Tanasan's victory gives Thailand its second Olympic medal in this event after Wiratthaworn Aree claimed bronze at the Athens 2004 Games.
The 21-year-old Olympic debutant Sopita Tanasan led the field at the halfway mark with three confident snatches for a 92kg total, seven kilograms clear of her nearest rivals. She then finished the job, lifting 108kg with her second effort in the clean and jerk for a total of 200kg. That was eight kilograms ahead of silver medallist Sri Wahyuni Agustiani from Indonesia and four-time Olympian Hiromi Miyake from Japan, who finished with the bronze medal after lifting a total of 188kg.
“I expected and hoped for a gold medal. I am very proud to have it. This is the first gold medal of this Olympic Games for Thailand. I am very proud that I got the gold for my country,” Tanasan said.
Silver medallist Agustiani rued two failed 115kg clean and jerk attempts: “I thought I could do it, but maybe it was just not my time. I have lifted 118kg in practice, but my bodyweight at the time was 51kg.”
Bronze winner Miyake claimed silver in this event four years ago but still created history when she became the first woman to win two Olympic medals in the 48kg class. She is part of a Japanese weightlifting dynasty, coached by her father Yoshiyuki Miyake, who won a bronze medal at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games. Her uncle is Tokyo 1964 and 1968 Olympic weightlifting gold medallist Yoshinobu Miyake. With a home Games looming, she is unsure of whether she wants a fifth Olympic experience.
“I have been to four Olympic Games and, considering my experience, this time it was very tough for me. But I did not want to give up. I wanted to win a medal and I did. I am very happy that I have this bronze medal. There is still four years until Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, so I am going to have to think about that as it gets closer,” Miyake said, who overcame back problems to make it to the podium in Rio.
Despite being an entertaining contest, the first event of the 15 on the Rio 2016 weightlifting programme delivered two notable disappointments. Vuong Thi Huyen was attempting to give Vietnam its first ever Olympic women's weightlifting medal, but failed to progress to the clean and jerk after one unsuccessful snatch attempt of 83kg and two at 84kg.
Highly regarded Chinese athlete Hou Zhihui was a withdrawal from the event. The 19-year-old failed to recover from a right knee injury sustained during training in Beijing last month. Her absence ended China's recent domination of the women's 48kg class after Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012.