Tuesday, July 31, 2012 -
Kazakhs all over the wold are rejoicing after three of their athletes won gold medals at the London Olympics this week.
Cyclist Alexander Vinokourov won a gold medal for the cycling road race on Saturday. Vinokourov, 38, competes internationally with UCI ProTeam Astana. He is expected to retire following the Olympics.
Weightlifter Zulfiya Chinshanlo, 19, won a gold medal in the 53 kilogram category on Sunday, while weightlifters from Taiwan and Moldova received silver and bronze medals, respectively.
On Tuesday, weightlifter Maiya Maneza, 26, won gold and set an Olympic world record in the 63 kilogram category, following stiff competition from Russian weightlifter Svetlana Tsarukaeva.
Kazakhstan now ranks fifth in the medal count, behind China, the U.S., France, and North Korea. It ranks first in medal count when accounting for population.
The country’s gold-medal wins do not come without controversy, however. China is claiming that Chinshanlo is actually a Chinese citizen who was born in the Hunan province under the name Zhao Changling and only changed her name to Chinshanlo when she moved to Kazakhstan to compete.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev is in the UK to support the athletic team.
Kazakhs took to Twitter to express their joy over their athletes’ successes in the British capital.
“Unbelievable! We have three gold medals!” wrote one Olympic watcher.
The only other Central Asian state with a medal thus far is Uzbekistan, which won a bronze in men’s judo Saturday.