No Dimas-Kakiashvili clash

With all minds on next year’s Olympic Games, Greece’s weightlifting team will be testing its strengths and weaknesses at the upcoming European Championships in Loutraki, west of Athens, and near Corinth between April 14 and 20. The competition’s agenda, however, will not include a domestic showdown between triple Olympic gold medalists Kakhi Kakiashvili and Pyrros Dimas, who, until now, had been competing in separate categories but are preparing to line up in the same division at next summer’s Athens Olympics. Both will vie for an unprecedented fourth weightlifting gold medal. Dimas, still recovering from surgery, has decided to avoid competition at this stage, and, consequently, will miss the Europeans. «I don’t want to attempt any sudden lifts after the operation. I’m training between eight and nine hours a day, and am also undergoing physiotherapy,» Dimas said. «I’ve become accustomed to the idea of finally carrying on, despite the pain I feel. The 94-kilo category is my new division, and I will not change,» he added. Dimas has moved up from the 85-kilogram category in which he won a gold at the Sydney Olympics. Subsequently, the Albanian-born athlete will be clashing with teammate Kakiashvili, who, last year, had considered a climb to the 105-kilo category, but will finally stay put at 94 kilos. «I realized that the 105-kilo category did not suit me and am returning to the old – with a very strict diet. I can’t make promises for Loutraki, except for a good performance,» noted Kakiashvili, a Georgian of Greek descent, who won his first of three Olympic gold medals competing with the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States in 1992. The national team’s coach, Christos Iakovou, said he intends to combine experience with youthful promise in Loutraki. The Greek team’s squad will be announced tomorrow. «I’m going to conduct a final test before I decide. We can’t talk about success, but, as always, we ask for the best possible performances,» Iakovou said. Iakovou said this Greek squad’s real fire power would come from the women. «They’re in better form at present, and I’m expecting two to three medals,» the coach said. Anastasia Tsakiri, who won a gold in the clean-and-jerk at last November’s World Championships in Warsaw with a world record lift of 136 kilograms in the 63-kilogram division – as well as two silver medals in the snatch and overall – will compete in Loutraki, despite a recent operation. «I’m not in the shape I was last year. I’ve missed out on a lot of training because of the injury,» Tsakiri remarked. «But I’ve trained intensively with support from my coach.»