TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese indigenous athlete in the women's 49-kilogram weightlifting category could be awarded the bronze medal if the gold medal winner from China is found to have been doping.
On Saturday (July 24), Chinese weightlifter Hou Zhihui (侯志慧) placed first with 94 kg in the snatch and 116 kg in the clean and jerk, clinching the gold medal and setting an Olympic record. However, Olympic officials now suspect Hou of doping and are requiring her to stay in Japan to undergo an additional test for performance-enhancing substances.
If Hou fails the doping test, India's Mirabai Chanu will be awarded the gold, making her the first weightlifter in Indian history to win an Olympic gold medal. Windy Cantika Aisah of Indonesia's bronze medal would be upgraded to silver.
Fang in action in women's 49 kg competition. (Reuters photo)
Fourth-place finisher Fang Wan-ling (方莞靈), a member of Taiwan's Tsou tribe, would then be awarded the bronze medal. Although Belgium's Nina Sterckx had a higher mark in the snatch, with 81 kg to Fang's 80 kg, the Taiwanese athlete lifted 101 kg in the clean and jerk, besting the Belgian's 99 kg and ultimately giving Fang a 1 kg edge in her 181 kg total.
Even if her fourth-place finish stands, the Tokyo Games have seen the 21-year-old's best performance so far as an adult in international competition. She took the gold in the women's 48 kg weightlifting category at the 2018 Asian Youth Weightlifting Championships.
Fang is considered an up-and-coming star in Taiwan's weightlifting scene and is coached by Chen Wei-ling (陳葦綾), who took the gold in the women's 47 kg weightlifting category at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Update 07/29 6:30 p.m.
When asked to comment on allegations that Hou was being investigated for violating anti-doping rule regulations, the International Testing Agency (ITA) sent the following response to Taiwan News on Thursday (July 29):
"The ITA transparently discloses all apparent or confirmed anti-doping rule violations and publishes them on its website. Based on this principle, we do not share any comments before issuing any statements ourselves.
We have not issued any statement regarding the athlete you mention."
Highlights of Fang's participation in women's 49 kg competition in Tokyo:
Determination on display during a competition in 2018: