LONDON (Reuters) - Kazakhstan’s Maiya Maneza won weightlifting gold in the women’s 63 kilogram class, fighting off Russian world champion Svetlana Tsarukaeva to pile up her country’s third gold medal of the London Games.
Maneza’s best lifts in the snatch and the clean and jerk styles totalled 245 kilograms, a new Olympic record total that forced Russia’s Tsarukaeva into silver medal position.
After sealing the top spot with her first clean and jerk lift, Maneza then failed two attempts at a 144 kg lift that would have set a world record, and an overall world record for the weight class.
“Today I (lifted) 135 kg which was a weak result, I reckon I can take 144,” she said.
A large Kazakh contingent cheered Maneza from the stands, unfurling a large: “Go ahead Kazakhstan!” banner and waving sky-blue and golden flags in support.
The victory marks the latest chapter in a running battle between the Kazakh and Russian lifters after Maneza lost her world title to Tsarukaeva in 2011.
However, Tsarukeva said she was satisfied with her performance, having been hampered by an injury to her right knee in the run up to the competition.
“As long ago as two days I couldn’t even walk,” she said, adding that painkilling treatment had enabled her to perform.
Canada’s Christine Girard won the bronze, and her country’s first women’s weightlifting medal, with a total of 236 kg.
Girard narrowly missed out on a medal at the Beijing Olympics and said that experience had given her the motivation to continue and win a medal at the London Games.
“It does make Beijing make sense, because it made me keep going for (another) four years,” she said.
Reporting by William James, editing by Peter Rutherford