Sopita dedicates gold to ailing Thai King

Thailand's Sopita Tanasan grabbed the first gold medal of the weightlifting competition at the Rio Games yesterday morning (Singapore time) and promptly dedicated it to ailing Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

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.

"I dedicate the medal to our King. That is the Thai way," Sopita said after she became the fourth woman weightlifter from Thailand to win an Olympic gold medal.

The 88-year-old Thai King is the world's longest-reigning monarch and is widely revered in the country where his frail health is a matter of public concern.

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 Thai hoisted 8kg more than silver medallist Sri Wahyuni Agustiani of Indonesia, while the evergreen Japanese lifter Hiromi Miyake took bronze with a total of 188kg.

Sopita, who hails from a family of boxers, was in control throughout at the 6,000-capacity Riocentro Pavilion 2, and went into the clean and jerk leading by 7kg.

Her only stumble came when she failed to lift 110kg in her final attempt of the night.

That left Agustiani needing to haul 115kg to take first place. The Indonesian had two opportunities but never came close.

Meanwhile, Cypriot weightlifter Antonis Martasides has 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. - AFP.

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