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Grandmother of Thai Olympic lifter dies watching him compete

Volunteers walk past a set of Olympics Rings at the Olympics Park in Rio de Janeiro on August 3, 2016 ahead of the Olympic Games. Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

BANGKOK (AP) — A celebratory occasion for a Thai Olympic bronze medal winner’s family turned somber as the athlete’s grandmother collapsed and died minutes before he won third place in the 56-kilogram weightlifting category.

A mourning ritual was held Tuesday at the home of Sinphet Kruithong, whose grandmother was among scores of family and friends watching his event live on a big television screen set up especially for the occasion in his village in northeastern Thailand. The festive atmosphere — villagers cheering and clapping as Sinphet heaved the weights up — turned somber Monday when people noticed that 82-year-old Subin Khongthap had collapsed.

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She did not live to see her grandson win the bronze medal.

A video taken by a local media outlet, Thai Rath, showed cheering villagers quickly rushing to Subin’s side and trying to revive her. She was taken to Chumphon Buri Hospital in Surin province, 330 kilometers (210 miles) away, where she was pronounced dead. She will be cremated Wednesday.

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Sinphet, 22, was the second Thai to win a medal at the Rio Games, following Sopita Tanasan, 22, who won a gold medal for weightlifting in the women’s 48 kilogram category on Saturday. He was, however, the first Thai man to medal in weightlifting while nine Thai women have won medals in the past.

The gold medal in his event went to China’s Long Qingquan and Om Yun-Chol of North Korea won the silver.

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