SPORTS

Medal haul for Greek women weightlifters

The national weightlifting team’s female members have proven their worth again. Yesterday, at the European Championships in Loutraki, west of Athens, Hariklia Kastritsi and Anastassia Tsakiri raked in a total of four medals – two of them gold. Competing in the 63-kilogram division, and back from a knee injury, Tsakiri, a world-title and world-record holder, won two gold medals and a silver. Teammate Kastritsi, who registered in the lighter 58-kilogram category, earned a bronze medal. Tsakiri lifted 100 kilos for gold in the snatch, 120 kilos for silver in the clean-and-jerk, and gold for her overall 220-kilogram performance. Kastritsi, a silver medalist at last November’s World Championships in Warsaw, where Tsakiri broke a world record on her way to being crowned world champion, won bronze in the snatch with a 92.5-kilogram lift. Her Turkish opponent, Aylin Dasdelen, dominated proceedings in the 58-kilogram division with two gold medals – overall and clean-and-jerk – plus a silver in the snatch. She set new European records on her way to all three medals. For Tsakiri, who had undergone an arthroscopy on her right knee, her decision to compete after a gradual return to full training proved safe in the end. Her coach had expressed serious reservations. «The motives for me to compete were that this competition was being staged in Greece, and the insistence of my coach, Christos Iakovou,» commented Tsakiri. «I took it for granted that I’d lift whatever my coach put on the bar in the clean-and-jerk, and was concerned about the snatch. But the opposite happened,» she added. Tsakiri said she was particularly moved by the presence of her grandfather and grandmother, who witnessed her in competition for the first time. Following her sole bronze medal, Kastritsi told visiting relatives from Thessaloniki – her mother and grandmother – that she failed to make them proud. «Bronze is enough for us,» they replied. Considering her troubled lead-up to the event, Kastritsi’s performance was commendable. Hampered by a lower-back injury, she has been forced to skip some training sessions. «We’re joyful over a medal, but some parents are mourning over the loss of their children. I dedicate my medal to them, hoping that it might lessen their pain,» said Kastritsi. The national team will be hoping for more success today as Giorgos Tzelilis, a silver medalist at world championship level, goes into action in the 69-kilogram category. Hopes are also high for distinction from Christina Ioannidi, a bronze medalist at last November’s World Championships, who will compete in the 75-kilogram division. Tzelilis, however, noted that he was below optimal condition. «I’m going to compete in yet another top-level competition, but, unfortunately, I’m not in the best of form. I’ll persist with the aim of distinction at the World Championships and, naturally, the Olympics,» Tzelilis said. Ioannidi said she would shoot for a place among the top six. Away from the competition, and to the preparations of next year’s Athens Olympics, a delegation of leading weightlifting officials were reportedly very satisfied by what they saw when taken out to the prospective Olympic weightlifting arena in Nikaia, close to Piraeus. The project is considered to be 80 percent complete. The delegation included the International Weightlifting Federation’s president, Tamas Ajan, and his European counterpart, Valdemar Basanowski.