The “Jenő Boskovics Lifter of The Year 2017” Trophies by the WORLD WEIGHTLIFTING magazine were awarded to Lasha Talakhadze and Lidia Valentin at a special Award Gala on 7 May, in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The Gala was held in the prominent Rustaveli Georgian National Theatre. Dr Tamás Aján, President of the IWF and Kornél Jancsó, Editor-in-Chief of WORLD WEIGHTLIFTING presented the awards to the deserving winners.
In his speech, Dr Aján said: “This is a very special occasion for more than one reason. On the one hand, this is the first time a Georgian weightlifter has been awarded since the IWF started the Lifter of the Year award in 1982. The second reason is that Lidia Valentin is the first Spanish athlete to receive this honour since the female poll started in 1991.
The final result of the online vote which was launched by WORLD WEIGHTLIFTING was clear-cut: Lidia Valentin won with a huge advantage, and Lasha Talakhadze, who came second in 2016, received significantly more votes than any of the four other nominees on the magazine’s list. All the athletes shortlisted for the prestigious title were world champions.
In addition to her three Olympic medals of different colours and her three European champion titles, Lidia Valentin also won the World Championship Gold medal in Anaheim in the 75kg category. With these results, she became the most successful female lifter in the world in 2017 and the most decorated Spanish weightlifter ever.
Lasha Talakhadze, who was born in Sakchere is not yet 25 years old, but he has already won all the most important titles. In addition to his three European and two World Championship gold medals, he became an Olympic Champion in Rio 2016 in the superheavyweights. He holds the World Record in Snatch as well as in Total in the +105kg bodyweight category. He crowned his triumph of 2017 when he won the male Lifter of the Year award with 9,800 votes.
The Award Gala was attended by some of Georgia’s most high-profile political and sporting leaders, including Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who voiced how proud he is of the Georgian Olympic Champions who brought pride to the nation. He thanked the IWF for bringing this prestigious event to Georgia.
Georgia’s four weightlifting Olympic Champions were also present: Rafael Chimiskian, now 90 years old, was in attendance and pointed out that he started the sequence of Olympic Champions winning every 12 years. Three-time Olympic Champion Kakhi Kakhiashvili, who is now President of the Georgian Federation, and Giorgi Asanidze (gold medallist at 2004 Athens) who is now the Chief Coach behind the success of Georgian weightlifting, were also in attendance. Lasha Talakhadze, proudly joins the list of Georgia’s Olympic Champions.
International Guests of Honour included Zhanat Tussupbekov, IWF Vice President; Dr Hasan Akkus, EWF General Secretary; and Constantino Iglesias, President of Spanish Weightlifting Federation.
Mr Iglesias was deeply impressed by the ceremony and glad to report on a recent increase in interest in weightlifting in his country, especially among girls.
Lidia Valentin expressed that she was greatly honoured and the Award Gala surpassed all her expectations.
Lasha Talakhadze undoubtedly considered a role model in Georgia, humbly stated that he owes his success and this honour not only to the voters and the IWF but largely to his family, wife and coach, Aftandil Gachokidze.
Both the IWF and Georgian’s representatives were mutually grateful for this opportunity and agreed that Tbilisi Lifter of the Year Award Gala further contributed to the prestige and the glory of weightlifting worldwide.
Watch the Gala on Youtube!