BANGKOK -- "Suu woi!" ("Fight!") It was a cry that brought a nation to its feet as Udomporn Polsak completed the lift that won her a gold medal for weightlifting at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens -- the first gold ever won by a Thai woman. That night, Thais cheered for a sport that many had never before heard of.
In the wake of Udomporn's success, female weightlifters have become a significant source of Thai Olympic glory, winning 13 of the country's total of 35 medals, including five of its 10 golds. Yet the sport remains a curiosity in Thailand, its participants critiqued for their supposedly unfeminine muscled physiques and its governing body mired in drug-related controversy.