Injured Haworth misses chance to medal

Updated: August 21, 2004, 6:40 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Greek weightlifting star Pyrros Dimas settled for three gold medals instead of claiming a fourth, but that didn't matter to his countrymen.

Dimas, trying to become the first weightlifter to win in four consecutive Olympics, didn't have enough muscle on his final two lifts to win Saturday, instead taking a bronze medal as Georgia's George Asanidze won the gold at 187 pounds (85kg).

Earlier, an aggravated elbow injury cost America's Cheryl Haworth any chance of a repeat bronze at super heavyweight. That event was won by China's Tang Gonghong with a world-record lift.

Asanidze wasn't bothered that Dimas, one of Greece's biggest sports stars, got a thunderous, standing ovation lasting 15 minutes before and after the awards ceremony from a flag-waving crowd seemingly determined to will him to a medal.

"I want to emphasize that Pyrros Dimas is not a bronze medalist, he is a three-time Olympic champion," Asanidze said.

Dimas, 32, placed his shoes on the platform after missing his final two lifts, the traditional sign of retirement. Later, he posed his three young children - all wearing shirts bearing No. 4 - on the medals stand and he plunged into the crowd to accept congratulations.

Really, he didn't win, it only seemed that way.

"This was my last march," Dimas said. "They showed me love and affection and I appreciated that."

Belarus' Andrei Rybakou came out of the morning B group to get the silver -- an almost unheard-of feat. Only one B group weightlifter came close to medaling in recent games, fourth-place finisher Sergei Filimonov of Kazakhstan in 2000.

"It so happens the B group is better for me," said Rybakou, the world record holder in the snatch. "I come out with more confidence in the B group."

Until Saturday, it wasn't certain if Dimas would even compete because of a hyperextended right elbow that occurred Monday in practice and a recent knee operation. He sat out for nearly three years after winning in Sydney, returning only in April to finish fifth in the European championships.

But he immediately raised 374 pounds (170kg) in the snatch, smiling as he looked to both sides of the packed arena as if to say, "See, I showed you."

He missed at 385 pounds (175kg), then made it on his final snatch attempt to roof-rattling cheers and the chant of "Dee-mas! Dee-mas! Dee-mas!"

That final snatch lift may have taken a lot out of Dimas. He put up 446 pounds (202.5kg) on is first attempt in the clean and jerk, then didn't come close to raising 451 pounds (205kg) or 457 pounds (207.5kg). When Asanidze raised 451 on his second lift, the gold was his, an upgrade from his bronze of Sydney.

Dimas joins Nikolai Pesahlov of Croatia, America's Norbert Schemansky and Germany's Ronny Weller as four-time weightlifting medalists. Greece still could get a fourth weightlifting gold; Khaki Kakiasvilis tries for his Monday at 207 pounds (94kg).

Haworth, from Savannah, Ga., tweaked her surgically rebuilt left elbow on her successful first attempt in the snatch, then sat out two lifts before settling for sixth place.

"There's no way I could go any heavier," said Haworth, whose total of 617 pounds (280kg) was 22 more than she raised while medaling in Sydney.

Even with the aching elbow, Haworth made all three lifts in the clean and jerk, though at lower weights than she wanted.

"Really, I wasn't impressed by the performances I saw," Haworth said. "I think I'm standing up on the podium right now if I had gotten hurt."

Still, Tang couldn't haven't been more impressive. She was only eighth in the snatch, then trailed South Korea's Jang Mi Ran by 16 pounds (7.5kg) going into her final attempt in the clean and jerk.

Despite lifting 402 pounds (182.5kg) only once previously in practice, Tang hoisted the weight to break her own world record by a remarkable 16 pounds (7.5kg).

"Yes, the pressure and time were quite great," said Tang, who has been accused of faltering in big events. "But my coach said, 'Don't think about it. Just do your best.' With that thought in my mind, I just did that without any pressure on my shoulders.' "

Jang, who raised 380 pounds (172.5kg), was the only other lifter to surpass 341 pounds (155kg) in the clean and jerk. Poland's purple-haired Agata Wrobel took the bronze after getting a silver in Sydney.

Tang's total of 672 pounds (305kg) broke her own world record of 667 pounds (302.5kg), the same weight Jang raised.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press