Just a “simple” handshake
Moment of the Year by Anikó Németh-Móra
In my 34 years (!) with the IWF, I have been fortunate enough to witness and partake in many emotional and uplifting moments that burned into my memory. More often than not, I am not ashamed to admit, tears came to my eyes, especially when I saw again and again the power of sport. When I talk about the power of sport I refer mainly to its potential to bring together people and peoples, cultures, nations – sometimes on opposite sides of the frontline – religions or even political enemies. That is a capacity of sports unparalleled by any other walk or sphere of life.
Therefore, to me the highlight of 2011 was not one of the fantastic world records or battles on the weightlifting platform that abounded last year like in many seasons before, but something that happened on another stage away from the competition. According to tradition, at the Closing Banquet of the Junior World Championships in Penang, Malaysia, the Eleiko-IWF Press Commission Best Lifter Trophies were presented. The women’s prize went to Deng Wei, a Chinese girl in 58kg, while the journalists voted Iran’s prodigy, 85kg Kianoush Rostami to receive the men’s Best Lifter award. Actually, another Chinese girl, Kang Yue came to the stage to take over the trophy for her teammate. When it came to posing for the photographers, the two winners, holding the beautiful glass trophies in their one hand, turned to each other, smiling, and shook hands. A simple handshake between two outstanding young athletes – what is so special about it?, you may ask. However, that handshake was symbolic.
We should know that in Iran, according to tradition and morals, men are not supposed to shake hands with women. Therefore, Rostami’s gesture that came so natural and obvious, out of joy and respect for a fellow competitor, was significant – of course in a different environment. In the environment of sport, friendship and fair competition. Whereas Rostami’s deep-rooted and honest faith and conviction, as well as his full devotion and loyalty to his country cannot and should not be questioned, to me it also showed that he is the same as young people anywhere in the world.
We found that handshake so becoming that we decided to put it on the cover of World Weightlifting, hoping that its true message will not be misunderstood. After many similar experiences in my years with weightlifting, I firmly believe that without hurting one’s integrity, sport will continue to break barriers and unite people.
Senior Editor World Weightlifting
Send your Most Memorable Moment of 2011 to Dezso Dobor, IWF Media Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the IWF Secretariat in order to be published!