Beautiful place on medals podium
Irina Kulesha of Belarus — Olympic bronze medallist in the under 75kg category — lifts 269kg in two exercises
By Dmitry Mashutin
The event was full of thrills, culminating in a tough struggle between Russian Natalia Zabolotnaya and Svetlana Podobedova of Kazakhstan. Interestingly, Ms. Podobedova has only recently begun to compete under the Kazakh flag, having represented Russia previously. Prior to the Beijing Games, the Russian Federation forbade her from changing citizenship, fearing competition, despite all the usual terms being met.
In London, Ms. Zabolotnaya and Ms. Podobedova set four Olympic records, both lifting 291kg. However, the Kazakh sportswoman was awarded the gold medal because of her lighter body weight (by a few grams). From the Belarusian village of Oberovshchina (in the Brest Region) she previously found herself in fourth position at most events, watching the final fight from afar. Russian weightlifter Nadezhda Yevstyukhina took the championship title from Podobedova at the previous World Championship but failed to lift the initial weight of 125kg at the Games, helping the Belarusian on her way to her medal.
Among a trio of favourites, Belarusian record breaker Irina Kulesha began her snatch exercise from a ‘warm-up’ position of 116kg; she ended at 121kg, failing to lift 125kg. However, due to Yevstyukhina’s absence, this was enough to bring her a medal — after lifting 148kg in the clean & jerk. Only 20kg separated Kulesha from Zabolotnaya, ranked second.