By Wang Qi, Sina English
Two years ago, she had interviews with journalists in Chinese at the Guangzhou Asian Games. Today, she protested that Chinese journalists asking questions in Chinese at the news conference after her success. Instead, she answered all the questions in Russian.
Such an abrupt shift of Maiya Maneza, who was born in Chinese northeast Liaoning Province and served as a weightlifting athlete in Liaoning and later Hunan Province before her departure for Kazakhstan, annoyed and also a bit shocked Chinese journalists.
Maneza, whose Chinese name was Yao Li, won a gold medal for Kazakhstan on Monday in the 63kg woman weightlifting competition at the London Olympic Games. However, she and another weightlifting athlete Zulfiya Chinshanlo were both born and bred in China before they fought for Kazakhstan at the competition.
The two female athletes have drawn great attention for their achievements in weightlifting. Zulfiya, or Zhao Changlin (Chinese name) won the 53kg weightlifting category last Sunday.
When she accepted an interview with Chinese journalists in Chinese, Zulfiya said her Chinese was so-so, but refused to tell when she went to Kazakhstan and where she was born.
To the dismay of the Chinese reporters, two days later, when Maneza also faced the Chinese media after her success in 63kg competition, she even refused to admit that she was born in China.
“I was born in Kyrgyzstan and have never been trained weightlifting in China. I have been in China with my parents only for ten years,” she said. “My heart goes for Kazakhstan,” she added.