Greek weightlifter Theodoros Iakovidis announced his retirement from the sport on Saturday after failing to secure his qualification to the final at the Tokyo Olympics.
Following his qualification attempt Iakovidis gave a heartfelt interview with Greek National Broadcaster ERT describing his disappointment and the challenges he faced in recent years.
“This performance does not reflect my efforts. Forgive me for the trembling of the voice. These are my last moments in the National team. I had some injury problems after the European Championship, between April-May and the beginning of June. I basically came with a month, heavy, regular workout. I left Athens with 150, 180 I did 156, 182 I tried and in 191. I can not have a complaint. I did more than what I did in the last days in training.” said an emotional Iakovidis.
Theodoros came first in Mediterranean Games in 2018, then won silver at the 2020 IWF World Cup and also represented Greece in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Iakovidis revealed the difficulty of training and qualifying for the Olympic games with hardly any financial support from the Greek Government or private sponsors.
One of those Olympics stories.
This is Greek weightlifter Thodoris Iakovidis. Right after competing in Tokyo he was on TV, in tears. No state funding or sponsors, been struggling financially and mentally for years, so he’d decided to retire. Twitter rallied in support #ιακωβιδης pic.twitter.com/9LmRFcfFI5
— angie (@ultravoxing) July 31, 2021
He only received a paltry 200 euros a month from the Hellenic Weightlifting Federation and often couldn’t afford petrol and had to walk to practice.
“I’m not crying out of sadness because I seemingly didn’t perform well. I’m crying because it is all over. Unfortunately, I can’t perform at my 100% and have my head calm enough to train and be able to give out what is worthy of the flag that I wear.”
“Sorry if to some people it seems like I’m just running away from it all, but I have become exhausted, and I can’t take this profession anymore. It’s unfortunate to be ashamed to go to the physical therapist because he won’t take your money because he knows you cant afford the consultation. I can’t take anymore it. I want to calm down and return to my family, to hug them and thank them for their support ,” the champion revealed.
Iakovidis received an outpouring of support fom the Greek public and many prominent athletes in the country, including reigning NBA champions Giannis and Thanasis Antentekoumpo who had communicated with him.
“We all need to apologise to Theodoros. Not only to him but to everyone. He can’t ‘lift’ that heavy burden all on his own. We are all behind him,” Thanasis said
“To be at the top level is difficult. Now that we brought the (NBA Finals) trophy here, we are happy, but when I was injured in Milwaukee, I was on my own. It is a challenge that you go through as a professional athlete. Many people don’t talk about it because they all say, ‘Come on, you get paid millions, shut up.’
“I’m pleased Theodoros opened up and spoke out. I know how hard it is to go through what he’s going through. I don’t know Theodoros Iakovidis personally, but we talked a little bit on Instagram. I stand with him,” added NBA champion Giannis Antentekoumpo.
The weightlifters Instagram account, which didn’t have many followers, has since been inundated with support.
Follow him: @Thodores_iakovidis