x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Roar for 'the Lion' Pyrros Dimas still ringing

Best Olympic weightlifter No 2 When Pyrros Dimas took the bronze at Athens in 2004, his countrymen from Greece cheered like he had won the gold.

Pyrros Dimas shouted 'For Greece' during a clean-and-jerk, holding the weights up a little longer.
Pyrros Dimas shouted 'For Greece' during a clean-and-jerk, holding the weights up a little longer.

The roar began. Pyrros Dimas, the bronze medallist, took the medal stand alone. The roar continued. He waved. The roar persisted. He heard the chants of "Dimas! Dimas!"

The roar sustained itself. He put his hand to his heart.

The roar went beyond two minutes ... three, four, five. He held his bouquet aloft. It would not stop. He bit his lower lip and cried. It got louder. He waved with both hands. It kept going somehow. The gold and silver medallists grinned at each other. And it kept going. He waved more.

In the grand history of roars in sports arenas, this one in Athens in 2004 - from about 5,000 mostly Greek fans - made the front room of the goose-bump hall of fame, given its uncommon sustenance.

It lavished appreciation upon Dimas, the light-heavyweight who, at 32, had just won the bronze.

Yet the gold medallist, Georgia's George Asanidze, said it succinctly, through an interpreter: "I want to outline that Pyrros Dimas is not a bronze medallist." He had won gold at 82.5kg at Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.

He had returned from Barcelona to be welcomed, along with another medallist, by 100,000 admirers.

He had won note as "The Lion of Himara" for his Albanian birthplace to ethnic Greek parents.

He had led a towering life with fine, simple gestures: exclaiming "For Greece!" during one clean-and-jerk, holding weights overhead longer than necessary to abet fans' photography.

He had come all the way back to Athens 2004, to one of the most phenomenal roars in any Olympics.

cculpepper@thenational.ae


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