By Kevin Farley
Pyrros Dimas always draws a crowd. For the three-time Olympic Champion, walking through a weightlifting venue is like attending a family reunion.
“Weightlifting is like my family,” Dimas said. “No matter where in the world I go, I have family with me.”
Representing Greece in four Olympic Games, Dimas says the ideals of Olympism and unity through sport runs through his veins.
“I feel a great responsibility to keep the Olympic Spirit alive,” Dimas said.
That is why there was no question when he was asked to help an athlete from Uganda at the Youth Olympic Games.
Just 16 years old, Hamdan Lutaaya Sserwanga arrived in Buenos Aires with his national delegation, but his coach was back home in Uganda. IWF International Technical Official, Janet Musoke Namwanga asked Dimas to step in and help her fellow Ugandan.
“Of course, I said ‘yes,’” Dimas said. “It is my role as an ambassador to this sport to help all athletes. Many people put me up on a pedestal, but it is important to show that I am an athlete too, and I want to use my experience to help anyone who needs it.”
It is not every day that a three-time Olympic champion, and, arguably, one of the most famous men in weightlifting asks to be your coach at the biggest competition of our life, but for Hamdan, that happened just two days before he was to compete.
“He was very excited,” Dimas said. “I was excited that he was excited. I like to see athletes succeed in weightlifting, and to be part of that journey is very important to me.”
Dimas, along with his older brother and Greek national coach, Odisseas, worked with Hamdan in the days leading up to his competition.
“We did a little technique work, but he was very strong and ready to compete,” Dimas said. “He is a warrior.”
After two days of training, the time to compete had arrived. During Monday’s 62kg session, Hamdan went a perfect six-for-six setting new personal bests in the Snatch, Clean & Jerk and Total.
It was not only a celebration for Hamdan, but for the sport of Weightlifting and the wider Olympic Movement. Founded on the values of peace, education and understanding, Olympism’s goal is to show that the world can unite through sport.
What happened on that Youth Olympic platform Monday night was nothing short of Olympism in action. The foundation of the Olympic spirit was put into action and translated into real difference for an athlete.
“In sport, you can see unity in people, no matter where they come from,” Dimas said. “I am honoured that our Weightlifting family holds these ideals so dearly.”