Who is Maiya Maneza? China-Born Athlete Wins Gold…For Kazakhstan

Who is Maiya Maneza? China-Born Athlete Wins Gold…For Kazakhstan
Aug 08, 2012 By eChinacities.com

Editor's Note: The following article was translated and edited from an article that first appeared in the Qiliu Evening news. The article discusses the debated ethnic background of female Olympic weightlifter Maiya Maneza. The athlete won the 63 kg class weightlifting gold medal for Kazakhstan at the 2012 London Olympics, but was reportedly born in Liaoning, China. Chinese reporters have bothered her with questions about this ever since she began winning high-profile competitions several years ago.

In the afternoon of July 31, the Kazakhstan weightlifting team claimed the gold medal in the women's 63 kg lift event. The female weightlifter responsible for the win was Maiya Maneza. While the name of this weightlifting star is likely unknown to most Westerners, she has become quite notorious in China ever since insisting on speaking Russian to Chinese journalists at a news conference two years ago during the Guangzhou Asian Games—despite apparently being a native Chinese.

Maiya Maneza is a 27-year-old, two-time world champion and Asian Games Champion who is widely considered one the best female lifters of her weight class in the world. Allegedly born Yao Li (姚丽) in Liaoning, China, Maneza first moved from Liaoning to Hunan to train with Chinese coach Zhu Mingwu (朱明武), before emigrating to Kazakhstan to continue her training in 2008. Zhu Mingwu told reporters that Maneza had followed him from Liaoning to Hunan and that they remained in contact while she trained in Kazakhstan.

But Maneza is apparently not the only Chinese athlete competing for Kazakhstan. The success of Kazakhstan's female Olympic weightlifting team has been due to the two Chinese female athletes, Maiya Meneza and Zulfiya Chinshanlo (formerly Yao Li and Zhao Changling), who now compete for the nation. And although the team has also included male weightlifters from China in the past, these two women are considered to be particularly outstanding athletes, who recently caught the attention of the world. On July 29, Zulfiya Chinshanlo won the gold medal in the women's 53 kg class lift, setting a new world record in the process. Post-competition, in interviews with Chinese reporters she stated that she was half Chinese and half Russian but refused to reveal her birthplace or the year that she relocated to Kazakhstan.

Two days after her teammate's big win, Maneza claimed her own gold medal in the women's 63 kg class lift. In her post-win interviews, the athlete refused to admit that she was born in China: "As I've told you already, I was born in Kyrgyzstan. Although I lived in China with my parents for a brief ten years, I never practiced weight lifting during that time." Maneza then added, "I represent Kazakhstan with all my heart." As Chinese reporters began grilling Maneza with questions in Chinese, the athlete turned to an Olympic staff member in protest, ultimately forcing them to ask her questions in English instead. Maneza's responses to questions regarding China visibly angered the Chinese reporters.
Chinese netizens react

tiger1974121 (12,081 likes): Should personal victory be traced back to the person's roots? Since she's emigrated to another country, then she's not a Chinese citizen any longer. The countries have already acknowledged this point.

就是不想废话 (9,620 likes): There's nothing sadder than a withered heart, and it looks like this girl is thoroughly heart-broken.

心即理 (6,036 likes): She's still more noble than all those corrupt officials that steal money and flee the country

zwj43129646 (5602 likes): The official name for it is "foreign exchange". But speaking frankly, it's really being ejected or abandoned. Every person who has been "exchanged" in such a way has been deeply hurt.

凤凰98博客(4,072 likes): That's understandable

badon007 (3,650 likes): Our reporters are too opinionated!

倾满城 (3,648 likes): When she left no-one cared. They only care right now because she just won a gold medal.

leirendeshidai (2,968 likes): She's so much better than those corrupt hypocrites who steal huge sums of money and emigrate to other countries, yet despite leaving, still act patriotic. Everybody should calm down and ponder whether there something wrong with the way we think? Why are we so hypocritical?

白白痴 (2,044 likes): Those who rely on their own abilities to win and who do no hard to others are so many times better than those officials who act patriotic on the surface but are actually corrupt.

Source: Qiliu Evening News, Ifeng.com

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Keywords: China London Olympics Chinese born Maiya Maneza weightlifter


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Now shes consider a foreigner that's why they used her worse picture. if she had represented China, you would have seen her best picture;well Photoshop.

Aug 13, 2012 06:52 Report Abuse



Don't you agree with me that if there was a void planet where life exist,many Chinese would move there and never come back here? I mean a place where you can be free and even browse Facebook.

Aug 12, 2012 00:10 Report Abuse


mutts nutts

Just leave them alone, just because they might have Asian looking faces doesn't mean they are. I work with a Canadian born but of Hong Kong ancestry Girl, she is so p......d off with people here saying " but, you are chinese...., no, really, you are" sounds like sour grapes from this more and more arrogant and greedy nation and perhaps they see it as two gold medals lost in their ever increasing and desperate race to beat the USA and gloat how good they are......deal with it for god sake.

Aug 10, 2012 20:45 Report Abuse



I sincerely doubt you will ever see a person of color, other than yellow, playing for a Chinese team. No matter how talented he or she is, China is too racist to ever acknowledge that a person of a dark color is really superior to a Chinese person.
There is a big stink about this now, because the two young ladies set records and, gold medals, and may have been born in China. Regardless of where they were born, they are no longer Chinese citizens and therefore do not have to have any loyalty to the country in which they were born.
Chinese just need to get over it.
Pat, it is interesting that you know your ancestry. I know mine too, going back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Most Chinese have no idea about their ancestry before their grandparents; have no idea where they came from.

Aug 10, 2012 05:21 Report Abuse



Tim, I absolutely agree with you. The US sees Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands compete as individual "nations" despite being US territories with little fuss made in the States. I can't give you an accurate number, but I'm sure the US team has a number of athletes that were born outside of the USA. I also saw a runner who was born in the US to Dominican parents, grew up in NYC, and attended UV-San Diego on a track scholarship running for the DR. Giuseppe Rossi, despite being born in the US, plays for the Italian National Soccer Team. Even though we like to complain, who would blame him?

I think this shows China has a problem with muticulturism now. Personally, my father's side of the family moved to the US around the late 19th-early 20th century, from Ireland. My mother's side moved to the US in the 1930s from a French community in Canada. I've never met an Irish, French, or Canadian person that sees me other than an American. So for China, this may change in a generation or two. I'm just curious to see how China will react if Jeremy Lin makes the USA basketball team in 2016. Perhaps we may see a person of Nigerian decent from Guangzhou playing for the Chinese team.

Aug 09, 2012 22:49 Report Abuse



We rather have the East Africans like the Ethiopians and Kenyans.

Aug 12, 2012 20:52 Report Abuse



What a terrible slur, it's less than 20 countries. We can't afford more than 19.

Aug 09, 2012 04:20 Report Abuse



The British team has athletes from over 20 different countries, who were given British passports to enable them to compete. If 2 or 3 Chinese athletes go to compete for other countries big deal.

Aug 08, 2012 17:37 Report Abuse