RYAN PYETTE -- Winnipeg Sun
SYDNEY -- What women's weightlifting needs is Big Brother.
Don't collect urine samples. Collect film.
If this first-time sport wants to hang around the Olympics, it'd better hire cameras
to monitor the athletes 24 hours a day for four years.
Follow them to the bathroom. Follow them to the training room. More than anything,
follow them to the pharmacy.
Sure, it'd erase privacy and destroy what few scraps of democracy remain. But it'd
be a useful scientific breakthrough to learn how Mexican Soraya Jimenez Mendivil improved
her lifts by more than 40 kilograms in the last 18 months.
Jimenez appeared out of nowhere to win gold in the women's 58-kg competition last
night. Her rise pushed favoured Korean Ri Son Hui off the top of the podium, downgraded
expected silver medallist Khassaroporn Suta to bronze, and denied Canada's Maryse Turcotte
(fourth) any medal at all.
"I was really disappointed when I saw some girls lifting 20 kilograms more than
last time I saw them," said Turcotte. "But I guess when you're young, you can
improve a lot quicker. When you're old like me, it doesn't happen as fast."
Jimenez, 23, is only two years younger than Turcotte. Before this, she showed no
signs of any improvement at all.
"For three years, the Mexican lifted the same weight, and in the last
year-and-a-half, we've seen her improve by over 40 kilos," said Turcotte's coach
Pierre Bergeron, Jr. "Maryse went up seven one year, five the next, and two the year
"At a certain point, you can't improve by leaps and bounds anymore."
Turcotte was diplomatic in defeat.
"I'm glad she won, she's from a poor country, and this might help her
out," she said.
This, from a woman who would be paying out of her own pocket for the sport she loves
if it wasn't for some funding from NHL defenceman Sylvain Lefebvre, whose foundation helps
struggling athletes in Quebec.
Turcotte knew what a medal meant here. She would have singlehandedly lifted the
profile of women's weightlifting back home. She would've given it a clean face, so to
DOESN'T EVEN TAKE ASPIRIN
"Maryse doesn't even take aspirin, not even multi-vitamins," said
Her coach knows Canadians would've fell in love with Maryse, seeing this young,
charismatic, always-smiling ball of energy on the podium. Sponsors would have loved seeing
her lift 90 kilos in the first round and then bend down to kiss the weight in happiness.
Maybe folks back home would've said: "Hey, we've got someone good in that
sport. That sport must be OK."
That's what Turcotte wanted.
What she got were questions about the women's side being as crooked as the men's.
"You hope everybody's on the same level," smiled Turcotte. "In this
sport, you get tested more than the others. Everybody here passed the last test, so what
can you say?"
You can say the tests aren't good enough.
That Canada got hood-winked again.
"Maryse couldn't have done any better," said Bergeron. "She won her
own gold medal today."
Unfortunately, her gold medal doesn't count in the standings.
It doesn't help the sport's profile in Canada. It doesn't catch the sponsor's eye.
It doesn't encourage young girls to join up so Turcotte can have some teammates next time
"I really believe a fourth-place finish can do that, too," she said.
That's wishful thinking, Maryse.
Kinda like believing that, last night, all the other lifters were on the level.
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