Weightlifter, Nikos Kourtidis, returned honour to Greek weightlifting with an impressive silver medal performance at the 2009 European Weightlifting Championships in Bucharest, Romania.
The 23 year old came agonisingly close to the gold medal in the 94 kg category, but ultimately finished in second place.
Just five points separated the Greek from German Jurgen Spieb, who won the gold medal.
Kourtidis emphasised that the result would bring back joy to the sport which was humiliated with drugs scandals in 2008, ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
“You can never be sure where you will finish in a competition. I was confident and very well prepared and this showed during my attempts.
“I am sure I could have taken the gold in the overall and also in the jerk. It was the jerk that ruined it for us,” Kourtidis said.
The 23 year old speculated that a long weight between attempts (due to false starts from other weightlifters) may have been the reason for his loss in concentration, but it appears that the future star will not let any errors dampen his future in the sport.
“There were six or seven attempts following my 210 kg snatch, which resulted in me cooling down before my 216 jerk attempt.
“I made a technical error and this stopped me from lifting. It does not matter to me. I will take the gold at another meet.”
“We have to look forward,” he continued. “We achieve nothing by constantly looking back to the events of one year prior.
“I am sure these medals here will help, but they won’t be the only support to the sport. We all have to help to return weight lifting to where it was in years gone by.
“In this effort, everyone must help, from the coaches, to the athletes and of course the governing body.”
Pyros Dimas, the president of the Hellenic Weightlifting Federation, immediately phoned Kourtidis to offer congratulations.
“The President (Dimas) is always with us. He was a tremendous athlete and he understands the agonies we are going through today. He phoned me and gave me congratulations.”
Greece’s newest weightlifting star celebrated the win in an unexpected way.
“I celebrated with sleep! We finished the ceremonies rather late and so I did not have too much desire for any celebrations!”
With Kourtidis, we’re back in the weightlifting mix.