Juniors get the chance to shine

With the national weightlifting team busily making final preparations for next month’s World Weightlifting Championships in Turkey, it is already clear that Greece will sending a men’s team that will be well below full strength. Many stars, including Olympic champions Pyrros Dimas and Kakhi Kakhiashvili, will not be competing, either through injury or decisions to rest. The absences, however, will make way for promising junior athletes, who will be testing themselves against experienced competition. Besides Dimas and Kakhiashvili, Valerios Leonidis, Victor Mitrou, and Christos Spyrou, who recently suffered a wrist injury, will all be missing, leaving Greece with just three experienced team members, Leonidas Sambanis, Giorgos Tzelilis, and Leonidas Kokkas. Joining them will be a younger crop of athletes, including Costas Papadopoulos, Spyros Stamatidis, Costas Garipis, and a slightly older team member, Christos Christoforidis, who have registered encouraging performances in international junior competition this year. This is a great opportunity for these youngsters to compete at senior-level World Championships. It can’t be compared with junior competition. They’ve got to go to build up experience, to break themselves in, capture 10th or 12th places, and assess the competition, said Christos Iakovou, the team’s head coach. If this doesn’t happen now, while the others are either injured or resting, when can it? Naturally, we’re not aiming for high placings, he added. The women’s team will be going to Turkey with two seasoned athletes amid its ranks, Maria Tatsi and Philippia Kohliaridou, who will be joined by several youngsters including Vassiliki Kassapi, Charikleia Kastritsi, and Christina Ioannidi.

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