Sukanya bounces back from drug ban

Thailand's Sukanya Srisurat celebrating her triumph in the women's 58kg class on Monday. She had served a two-year drug ban from 2011 to 2013 after testing positive as a 16-year-old for the anabolic steroid methandienone.
Thailand's Sukanya Srisurat celebrating her triumph in the women's 58kg class on Monday. She had served a two-year drug ban from 2011 to 2013 after testing positive as a 16-year-old for the anabolic steroid methandienone.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

RIO DE JANEIRO • Sukanya Srisurat said her Olympic gold on Monday was redemption for serving a two-year ban for doping offences as Thailand finished one-two in the women's 58kg class to lead the weightlifting medal standings.

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 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 (in my bid) 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 had not 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.

Pimsiri lifted 102kg in the snatch and jerked 130kg for her total of 232kg to add another silver to the one she won in London in 2012.

Pimsiri said Sukanya had paid her dues for the doping offence and insisted she was happy to finish second to the gold medallist.

"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," she said.

The two podium finishes took Thailand to the top of the weightlifting medal 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 the women's 48kg title while Sinphet Kruaithong took the men's 56kg bronze.

"We support and encourage each other to bring out the best in all of us," Sukanya said when asked about Thailand's success this week.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2016, with the headline 'Sukanya bounces back from drug ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe