...and weightlifting also salutes a legend

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The weight of years and the demands of training were ultimately too much for Turkey's "Pocket Hercules" to bear, as Naim Suleymanoglu, the compact weightlifter who captured three Olympic gold medals and the hearts of his adopted homeland, announced his retirement yesterday.

"I am now 30. It is enough. I am announcing that I am putting an end to my active sports life," Suleymanoglu said. He became a national hero after winning his first Olympic gold in 1988 in Seoul. He has also won seven World Championships - two before he defected from his native Bulgaria in 1986.

In the last Olympic Games, the 4ft 11in Suleymanoglu broke his own world record with a combined lift of 7381/2 pounds (52st 101/2 lb) in snatch and clean-and-jerk.

"Weightlifting has given me a lot, and it has given me a lot of joy," Suleymanoglu said. "My next target would have been the Sydney Games. But I cannot remain in active weightlifting for four more years."

Suleymanoglu said he wanted to continue working in weightlifting as technical director or manager. "But for now I only have one goal: to rest for a long while and catch up on all that I have missed out on in my youth."

Suleymanoglu, born into an ethnic Turkish family, was widely honoured and admired for helping to put Turkish sport back on the map.