LONDON — The world's strongest woman is quite the weightlifter. She's just not much of a farmer.
China's Zhou Lulu won a record-smashing super-heavyweight battle against Tatiana Kashirina of Russia on Sunday with a total of 333 kilograms – more than any other woman had totaled before in the two Olympic lifts.
But growing up, her size sometimes worked against her.
"My family owns an orchard where they grow apples. I tried to go there and work for a while and help them out, but when I entered the orchard I was too big," the 24-year-old Zhou said.
"Every time I turned around I would knock something over or hit one of the trees so all the apples would come tumbling down and I would step on them. So my parents told me to come out and just stop. I was doing more harm than good."
In weightlifting, she found her place to shine. And she didn't care if people said the sport wasn't for women.
"Actually I like weightlifting. So when you like something, you don't think if it's bad for your body shape or not feminine," Zhou said. "I just do what I like."
Zhou won China's fifth weightlifting gold medal in London in a thrilling duel with Kashirina, who also finished second to Zhou at last year's world championships.
Kashirina was in first place after shattering the world record twice in the snatch. And Russia's first weightlifting gold at the London Olympics seemed in the bag when she firmed up wobbly legs to reach a world-record total of 332 kilograms in her second clean and jerk.
But her celebration and world record proved short-lived.
Zhou responded by lifting 187 kilograms in her second final clean and jerk to beat her rival's total by just one kilogram.
Exhausted from their high-octane duel, Kashirina couldn't reply and just dropped the bar in her final attempt, ceding the gold medal to her Chinese rival.
Had her coaches picked a lower weight for her second clean and jerk, Kashirina might have been able to maintain an advantage over Zhou. That strategic decision may have cost her the gold.
"I'll put it this way: My job here is just to go on the platform and do the lifting," Kashirina said. "The rest of it is decided and determined by my coach, the head coach and the rest of the people around me."
Hripsime Khurshudyan won Armenia's first medal of the games by beating defending Olympic champion Jang Mi-ran of South Korea in a battle for bronze.
Americans Sarah Robles set a personal record to finish seventh, while countrywoman Holley Mangold was 10th.