DUBAI // The growing popularity of weightlifting has drawn triple Olympic gold medallist Pyrros Dimas to town.
The retired Greek champion, 41, took Olympic gold at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 games in the 82.5, 83 and 85 kilogram classes respectively. He will be hosting a seminar and weightlifting competition next week at the Burn Room in Umm Suqeim.
“In the local community, Olympic lifting is getting really big,” said Mohammed Faisal, the Burn Room’s manager. “People like Marwan Al Marri are focusing on it now as their actual sport.”
Mr Al Marri, 23, will be competing in the contest, which has places for 20 men and women.
His coach, Derrick Branford, a former competitive lifter in the United States, said the young Emirati would use the competition as preparation for the Dubai Fitness Championships in September.
“The competition is just part of the process for Marwan. He’s right on track with his training for the competition and we don’t want him to peak too early so this is just one step in the process,” said Mr Branford.
Jens Lofgren, 31, an Olympic lifting coach at Scandinavian Health and Performance in JLT, has also entered the competition and will attend the seminar.
“Pyrros is a legend,” said Mr Lofgren. “When I started lifting he was one of the people I would look up to. He’s an average weight and really shows that it’s not just this image of the big, fat guys lifting weights.”
Many of Mr Lofgren’s clients are CrossFit enthusiasts wanting to improve their technique in the highly technical sport.
“CrossFit has certainly helped bring this to a wider audience,” he said. “I don’t think if you walked up to the average person in the gym five years ago they would know what a clean and jerk was, but now it’s slowly growing.”
The head coach at the Burn Room, Kim Beso, said he hoped people wouldn’t be too intimidated by Mr Dimas to participate. “It’s an amateur competition, just with an Olympian here,” he said.
Mr Faisal said the UAE Weightlifting Federation would be present at the event. “Just by us bringing Pyrros here is helping open doors for other athletes in the sport,” he said.