Kakiashvili set for 105-kilo division

Weightlifter Kakhi Kakiashvili, a triple Olympic gold medalist – twice for Greece and once, in 1992, for the Commonwealth of Independent States – has announced that he will step up a division to the 105-kilogram category for at least a year before deciding on his plans for the Athens Olympics in 2004. Kakiashvili’s move up a division temporarily rules out the prospect of a head-on encounter with one of Greece’s other stars, Pyrros Dimas, also a triple Olympic gold medalist, in international competition. Dimas, who has been competing in the 85-kilogram category, is likely to step up to the 94-kilogram category, Kakiashvili’s previous division. Dimas is recovering from a knee operation. But even if Dimas were to register himself a category higher, a collision course with Kakiashvili seems improbable. The latter would need to shed 11 kilos to step back down to his old 94-kilogram division. Kakiashvili, currently on Samos preparing for the upcoming World Championships in Warsaw between November 19 and 25, said he was in good form and would be aiming to register lifts close to his personal records – which he set as a far lighter athlete. Though he stressed that getting in competition preceded winning at this stage of his Olympics preparations, Kakiashvili said he hoped to bring back a medal from Warsaw. Teammate Valerios Leonidis, now 36, a silver medalist at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 – he succumbed to Turkish rival Naim Suleymanoglu in a titanic struggle that prompted a string of new world records – seems set to rise a division to 77 kilograms. Christos Spyrou and Leonidas Kokkas, however, are most likely to remain in their respective divisions of 85 and 94 kilograms.