A former gymnast and first-time Olympian, Polina Guryeva won silver in the -59kg class, behind her idol Taiwan's Kuo Hsing-Chun, who broke Olympic records in all three of the weightlifting event's categories.
Weightlifter Polina Guryeva made history on Tuesday as Turkmenistan's first Olympic medallist and, as the shock sank in, began wondering how she might cope with the hero's welcome she is anticipating back home.
A former gymnast and a first-time Olympian, Guryeva won silver in the -59kg class, behind her idol, Taiwan's Kuo Hsing-Chun, who broke Olympic records in all three of the event's categories.
"It's the first medal, and it's me who won it," an overwhelmed Guryeva told reporters at the Tokyo International Forum.
"I think I've made myself a name in the history of Turkmenistan... I'm so shocked."
Guryeva said she had found it hard to adapt to the -59kg category, having dropped down from -64kg last year.
"That's how I had the chance to come to the Olympics. It was so hard. I tried and trained so hard," she said, adding that she had used Kuo as an inspiration.
"I like everything about her, I like the technique, how she trains. I want to be like her in the future."
Part of the Soviet Union during most of the 20th century, Turkmenistan declared independence in 1991 and is run by its president as an autocracy.
Guryeva's homecoming is likely to be celebrated in style, a prospect that the 21-year old is only just beginning to come to terms with.
"What am I going to do? I don't know. I'm going to be in shock throughout."
Taiwan's Kuo wins gold, misses out on world lifting record
Taiwan's Kuo Hsing-Chun won the gold medal in the women's 59kg weightlifting event at the Olympics on Tuesday as Canada's Maude Charron secured victory in the women's 64kg category.
Kuo, who broke three Olympic records but fell short of her own world record, dropped to the floor with a bitter smile after failing at a lift of 141 kg in the clean and jerk to beat her best of 140 kg.
"I was competing against myself, and I wanted to break the world record," Kuo told reporters.
"I am very happy that I put all the pieces together now, adding in the Olympic gold medal today," she said.
Charron put her two hands on her mouth in joy and embraced her team mate after she succeeded in lifting 131 kg in the clean and jerk.
"The gym in Quebec was closed due to the pandemic and I carried all my stuff, my bars, my plates to my dad's garage and I trained there for the whole year," she told reporters.
Italy's Giorgia Bordignon took the silver medal and Taiwan's Chen Wen-Huei the bronze.
Chen failed in two attempts to lift 130 kg in the clean and jerk, while Bordignon took a cautious approach to make three successful attempts.
In the 59 kg event, Polina Guryeva won silver, Turkmenistan's first medal at the Tokyo Games, and Japan's Mikiko Andoh earned Japan's first weightlifting medal at the Tokyo Games by claiming bronze.
Andoh burst into tears on the stage after her final attempt at the clean and jerk and was helped up by two coaches.
The Japanese lifter said she injured her knee this month after dropping a barbell in training.
"I thought that was the end of it when that happened," Andoh said. "I was not able to do the clean and jerk until I got here today."