SPORTS

‘Accidental’ weightlifter picks up two gold medals

TUNIS – Greek weightlifters Natasha Tsakiri and Constantina Misirli each struck twice at the Mediterranean Games in Tunis on Wednesday to win two gold and two silver medals – respectively – in the women’s 63-kilogram category. As had been expected, gymnast Demosthenes Tambakos, who won gold at the European Championships and silver at the Sydney Olympics last year, added another medal to Greece’s tally with gold on the rings. The two medals in the women’s weightlifting had not been anticipated by most team officials, even though Yiannis Sgouros, the president of EOAB, Greece’s Weightlifting Federation, had predicted the outcome. For her two gold medals, Tsakiri lifted 95 kilograms in the snatch and 120 kilograms in the clean-and-jerk. Misirli’s two silver medals were won with lifts of 87.5 kilograms in the snatch and 107.5 in the clean-and-jerk. Shedding light on her career’s unknown early days during her post-competition remarks, Tsakiri admitted that her involvement in weightlifting was accidental. I had gone to the Panellinios club with the intention of beginning track and field. But the club’s weightlifting coach, Dimitris Iliadis, immediately grabbed me and for months showed me the techniques of weightlifting, said Tsakiri. Against my will, he forced me into competition and I gradually began liking it, the athlete added. There were more Greek successes in the weightlifting events: In the men’s 77-kilogram category, Christos Christoforidis won two bronze medals with lifts of 147.5 in the snatch and 180 kilograms in the clean-and-jerk. There has been much talk about the controversial behavior of local fans at these games and the noise they have generated from the stands – in events requiring silence – to put off foreigners competing against Tunisian athletes. The problem has been particularly acute in the weightlifting arena and has prompted numerous athletes to lodge complaints. Going a step further, a Spanish weightlifter, Navarro, yesterday expressed his outrage by exposing his buttocks to fans and making an obscene gesture after he failed to lift his weight three times to the tune of local jeers. He was disqualified. Apart from Tambakos’s gold medal on the rings, the gymnastics team earned another medal with Costas Barbakis taking bronze in the floor exercises. In swimming, the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team won a silver in a Greek-record time of 3 minutes 48.74 seconds, and Vassilis Demetis won a silver at the 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4 minutes, 24.30 seconds. Cacti