This is the second series out of six series which entail an interview with Alexandros Kouvacs’s coach Dimitris Vellianitis. In this interview, we talk about the Greek weightlifting system.
Below is the first part of the interview which contains a short biography about Dimitris Vellianitis.
Enjoy and stay tuned for the second part!
Taha: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Dimitris: My name is Dimitris Villianitis and I’ve been training Alexandros Kouvacas for about a year. I was on the national Greek team of Olympic Weightlifting and I participated in many competitions at the Junior and the Senior level. I started my coaching career by coaching the special Olympics powerlifting Greek team which helped me develop a different type of training technics in order to help people with various physical problems. With the use of these technics, I was able to design individualized training programs for athletes from different sports that target their weaknesses and ultimately improve their performance.
Taha: How did you meet Alex?
Dimitris: I heard about Alex when he participated in a competition in Greece. Fast forward, the current coach of the Greek weightlifting team Valerios Leonidis and Leonidis Sabanis introduced me to Alex.
Alex: I would like to add that back in 2007 I came to Greece for a Training camp and Dimitris was still an athlete. That was when I met him for the first time but he does not remember seeing me around at that time.
Taha: How long have you been involved with Olympic Weightlifting?
Dimitris: As an athlete, 23 years.
Taha: How was your career as an Olympic weightlifter?
Dimitris: I started very young, around the age of 12 years old. I competed nationally at the age of 14 years old and I won the national championship U15 in the 85kg category. I also competed in the European Junior championship in the A session where I came third and participated in two European Championships U21 where I came second and third. Furthermore, I participated in many Greek national championships in the 94kg category and in the University Championship. I stopped my career very young as an athlete. I was 24 years old when I stopped.
Taha: Did you stopped very young because of injuries?
Dimitris: I stopped because of my studies in the University and I had internships to complete for school. Later on, I decided to become a coach and in Greece by law if you are in the process of becoming a coach you are no longer considered an athlete anymore.
Taha: Have you participated in any world championships or in the Olympic games?
Dimitris: At my time, very few athletes competed in the Senior team because the Dream Team* was still around (Fighting for a spot in the national team was really hard back in the 90’s, the golden era of Greek weightlifting).
*Dream Team: At the height of Greek Weightlifting the national team was composed of the following legendary athletes: Victor Mitrou, Leonidis Kokas, Loenidis Valerios, Leonidis Sabanis, Pyrros Dimas, Kakhi Kakhiashvili.