Greek weightlifter Theodoros Yakovidis announced his retirement from the sport on Saturday after failing to make it to the weightlifting final at the Tokyo Olympics. The athlete explained his departure by the lack of assistance from the state.
Yakovidis has made a successful career in sports. He took 1st place at the 2018 Mediterranean Games, took silver at the 2020 IWF World Championships and competed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
In an emotional statement to the press after failing to make it to the final, Jakovidis expressed the difficulties of training and preparing for the sport with very little financial support from the state or sponsors.
The athlete said that he was paid only 200 euros a month from the Greek Weightlifting Federation, while he trained, he often could not afford gasoline and he had to walk to train.
“I’m sorry that my voice is trembling, but these are my last minutes in the national team,” said the weightlifter.
The Greek athlete also revealed that he arrived at the Olympics after a short period of intense training: “I arrived at the Olympics in just one month of preparation and training, and I lifted more weight than I took in my last training session, and I’m not complaining. We took up a challenge that demanded more than our capabilities. “
Yakovidis talked about how difficult it was to prepare for the Olympics with extremely low financial support, and suggested that more funding would allow him to perform better and prepare normally for the Olympics.
“Sorry if some people think I’m just running away from difficulties. But I am very tired and can no longer tolerate this situation. It is very inconvenient to go to a physical therapist knowing that he will not take your money, because he knows that you do not have enough of it. I can’t stand it. I want to calm down and return to my family, hug them and thank them for their patience, ”said the athlete.
After an emotional statement to the press, Yakovidis received support from the Greek public and a number of prominent athletes in the country.
Greek athletes speak out in support of the weightlifter
Pyrros Dimas, a three-time Greek Olympic champion and general secretary of the Greek Weightlifting Federation, spoke out in support of Yakovidis on Friday night and expressed his responsibility for the dire circumstances the athletes face.
“I am part of the world of Greek athletics and I take responsibility for my participation in the tears of Theodoros Yakovidis in Tokyo,” he wrote on his social media accounts. He further argued that the country’s ongoing financial crisis, which began in 2008, made the financial situation of Greek athletes extremely difficult.
However, he did not place the full blame on the country’s economic situation. “I think the story of Yakovidis is, in a way, the story of all the hardships that we have gone through over the past ten years. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but anyone who tries to do something is wrong too. My responsibilities are great. Now they are even bigger. Forgive me, Theodoros. We need to try harder, ”said the legendary Greek weightlifter.
Giannis and Thanasis Adetokunbo, who returned to Greece on Sunday after winning the NBA Finals, were asked about the Olympian’s statement during a press conference. The brothers, who had a difficult path to the NBA, expressed solidarity with the Greek weightlifter.
“We have to say a huge ‘sorry’ to Theodoros. Not only to him, but to everyone. He cannot handle all this weight on his own. We are all with him, ”said Thanasis.
His brother Giannis said: “It is difficult to be at the highest level. Now that we brought the NBA Finals trophy here, we’re happy, but when I got injured in Milwaukee, I was alone. This is a challenge that you overcome as a professional athlete. A lot of people don’t talk about it because everyone says, “Come on, you make so many millions, shut up.”
“I am happy that he spoke out and cried. I know how hard it is to get through what he is going through. I don’t know Theodoros Yakovidis personally, but we had a little chat on Instagram. I’m with him, ”said Greek Freak *.
Petrunias, one of the best gymnasts in the world, posted a photo of Yakovidis on his Instagram story with the words: “Move forward with fortitude, without expecting from anyone.”
* Greek Freak, nickname Yannis Adetokounbo, which he received in the NBA for his style of play.