Portraying the spirit of Olympian weight lifter, Greek national hero

April 27, 2012 | By Doug Pensiger | Olympics, Sport

While covering the 2004 Athens Olympics I was given an assignment to cover weight lifting. I had the good fortune to document the weight lifting efforts of Greek national hero Pyrros Dimas as he was attempting to win his fourth Olympic Gold Medal in as many games.

The event was much anticipated and the build-up had been mounting for some time. He was chosen to be Greece’s flag bearer in both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and he was front page news in the local papers the morning of the event.

His participation in this Olympics had been questioned after having had knee surgery earlier that year and he also had an injured wrist. Yet his attempt yielded him a Bronze Medal and the hearts of his supporters as he cemented himself in Greek Olympic history.

After his final lift he abandoned his shoes at the edge of the platform to declare his retirement and walked off. For me it was my Olympic moment to witness and document the intense bond between a man and his adoptive country. When he won his first Gold medal in Barcelona he shouted ‘for Greece’ as he made the winning lift, and in the end Greece came out ‘for Dimas’.

 

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Pyrros Dimas of Greece waves farewell to the crowd after removing his shoes and leaving them behind in a gesture of retirement after his final attempt in the men's 85 kg category weightlifting competition on August 21, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at Nikaia Olympic Weightlifting Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: Doug Pensiger began his photography career as a freelance newspaper photographer in Pennsylvania, but these days, international sport photography is more his speed. He’s covered the Summer and Winter Olympics, as well as FIFA World Cups, World series and more. In addition to event coverage Doug enjoys photographing sports personalities off the field. He’s won awards from the National Press Photographers Association, the White House News Photographers Association, The Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards, Major League Baseball and others. An understanding of the people, and the moment, led to this fantastic shot.

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