Pyrros Dimas is an Albanian-born Greek weightlifter, who won gold medals at three consecutive Olympic Games. He seemed to have been god-gifted and born to become a living legend in the history of weightlifting. After representing Albania in his early career, he migrated to Greece in 1991 and made his debut appearance for Greece at the 1992 Olympic Games, winning a gold medal. He went on to compete in the next three Olympic Games and win two gold medals and one bronze medal. His success at the three consecutive Olympics made him Greece’s national hero and one of the greatest athletes in weightlifting. Besides being a three-time Olympic champion, he also holds three World Championship titles and one European Championship title. He has been honored with several awards for his achievements in weightlifting. Upon his retirement from the sport, he was selected to head the Hellenic Weightlifting Federation and joined politics
Childhood & Early Life
Pyrros Dimas was born as Pirro Dhima on October 13, 1971 in Himara, southern Albania, to Greek parents.
He started training in weightlifting at the age of 11 and by the time he turned 14, he started competing at the junior level.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
He received training under Zef Kovaci and became a triple champion in Albania in 1989 under the 82.5 kg category, which he repeated in 1990 as well.
He participated at the 62nd World Championship of Weightlifting in 1989 and rose to the world rank of 12, helping Albania attain the 13th position.
Through his phenomenal performance at the 1990 European Weightlifting Championship, held in Aalborg, Denmark, he improved his world ranking from 12 to 4, while Albania catapulted to 3rd position, behind Soviet Union and Bulgaria.
At the 1990 European Cup, held in Antalya, Turkey, Albania rose to rank 2 in Europe.
He went to Greece in 1991 on the pretext of getting a surgery but stayed back and became a Greek citizen in 1992.
He was welcomed by over 100,000 fans in a grand ceremony at Panathinaikon Stadium, Athens, upon his return from Barcelona after winning a gold medal, along with another medalist, Voula Patoulidou, who won in the 100m hurdles.
He added two world titles at the 1993 Melbourne World Championships and 1995 Guangzhou World Championships, followed by European title at the 1995 Warszawa European Championships, under the 83 kg category, into his kitty.
In 1998, he won two more medals in the 85 kg class – gold at the Lahti World Championships and silver at the Riesa European Championships.
He announced his retirement at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Athens, amid standing ovation by the Greek audience.
Continue Reading Below
He was made the vice-president of Hellenic Weightlifting Federation in June 2008 and four months later in October, he became its president.
He ventured into politics in 2012 by joining PASOK and criticized the Greek government for forgetting the Northern Epirus.
He attended the ceremony of 100th anniversary celebration of the declaration of Autonomy of the Republic of Northern Epirus, held in February 2014.
He became a national hero overnight when he claimed his first Olympic gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, in the 82.5 kg clean-and-jerk category raising a total of 370 kg, shouting his famous cry ‘For Greece’.
He was his country’s flag-bearer at the 1996 Olympic Games, held in Atlanta, where he won his second Olympic gold medal in the 83 kg class, making a world record by lifting 392.5 kg in total.
In his third Olympic competition, he clinched his third consecutive Olympic gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games, in the 85 kg clean-and-jerk class.
He was the flag-bearer of the Greek team at both opening and closing ceremonies at the 2004 Olympic Games, held in Athens. He won a bronze medal in the 85 kg class, despite suffering from a wrist injury and recovering from a knee surgery.
Awards & Achievements
The Albanian government awarded him with the ‘Master of Sports’ title, while the European Weightlifting Federation honored him with the ‘European Master’ title, in 1990.
In 1996, he was honored with the distinction of Captain of the Hellenic Army by the Greek government, for securing a second gold medal at the Olympics.
He is among the four weightlifters who have won a gold medal in three successive Olympic Games – other three being Halil Mutlu, Kakhi Kakhiashvili, and Naim Suleymanoglu.
By winning bronze at the Athens Olympics in 2004, he became the fourth athlete to win a medal at four Olympic Games in weightlifting. Besides, he is only the third weightlifter to claim a medal four times consecutively.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to Anastasia Sdougkou, a former reporter with Greek National Television (ERT), with whom he has four children – daughter Eleni (1995), son Victor (1998), daughter Maria (2000), and son Nickolas (2009).
He earned his nickname ‘The Lion of Chimara’ from his Albanian birthplace, Himara (or Chimara).
As a true sportsperson, he would continue to hold the weights above his head even after the buzzer went on, allowing the audience to click pictures