Klaipeda, Lithuania: From October 13th to 15th, the city of Klaipeda, renowned for its rich weightlifting tradition, played host to the “OPEN BALTIC COUNTRIES TOURNAMENT”. This event not only celebrated the prowess of weightlifting athletes across Europe but also marked a significant milestone: 100 years of weightlifting in Lithuania.
Drawn by the event’s significance, athletes from 10 European countries converged on Klaipeda, showcasing the unifying spirit of sport.
The meticulous orchestration behind the tournament came from a respected ensemble: Federation President Vytautas Čepas, Federation Vice President Jonas Nevecka, Competition Director Modestas Šimkus, Technical Director Vincas Slevinskis, and Referee-in-Chief Kestutis Kalunda. Their combined expertise ensured that the event adhered to the highest standards of professionalism and sporting spirit.
The solemnity of the opening ceremony was enhanced manifold with the presence of Klaipeda’s Mayor and former Lithuanian Weightlifting Federation President, Arvydas Vaitkus.
“Today, as Klaipeda takes center stage, I am transported back to the myriad memories and milestones that weightlifting has bestowed upon our nation. Klaipeda’s deep-rooted connection with weightlifting is not just about tradition, but about the people, their passion, and their resilience. It is an honor for me, both in my former role as the president of the Lithuanian Weightlifting Federation and now as the Mayor of this historic city, to welcome nations from across Europe to this grand spectacle. This tournament encapsulates more than just athletic endeavors; it’s a reflection of our century-old commitment to a sport that’s close to our hearts,” he said.
Dr. Vytautas Čepas, Current Lithuanian Weightlifting Federation President and the 1st Mayor of Klaipeda post-independence:
“It is with immense pride and a deep sense of responsibility that I stand before you today. My association with Klaipeda, first as its mayor following our cherished independence and now as the president of the Lithuanian Weightlifting Federation, has offered me a unique vantage point. I have seen, firsthand, the evolution of our commitment to weightlifting. As we mark a centennial of this journey, I am elated to see such diverse representation from across Europe. Every athlete here is a testament to the enduring spirit of this sport, and every lift is a tribute to the legends that paved the way.”
Mr. Modestas Šimkus, Lithuanian Weightlifting Federation General Secretary:
“The Open Baltic Countries Tournament is more than a competition; it is a symphony of histories, dreams, and aspirations converging in Klaipeda. I am truly heartened to see the sheer dedication and camaraderie exhibited by the participating nations. It reminds us that sports, especially weightlifting in our context, transcends beyond mere physical prowess. It’s about the spirit, the community, and the legacy. As we come together, we’re not just competing; we’re crafting the next chapter of a storied legacy.”
Dr. Milan Mihajlovic, EWF General Secretary:
“On behalf of the European Weightlifting Federation, it is an honor to join Lithuania in celebrating a monumental 100 years of weightlifting. Such anniversaries are more than just markers of time; they also bear witness to resilience, devotion, and the pursuit of achievement. The togetherness and mutual respect that I’ve seen here are absolutely admirable. Lithuania’s meticulous organization, its embrace of history, and its vision for the future set a benchmark that resonates with the core values of the EWF. As we lift weights, we also lift the spirit of friendship, collaboration, and fair play.”
EWF Vice-President Davit Kipshidze attended the event with passion and expressed his delight at the superb organization and impressive sporting performance, complimenting the hosts of the celebration.
On the competition floor, athletes pushed the boundaries of physical strength and mental fortitude. Amidst a lineup of formidable contenders, Mishvelidze Shota of Georgia and Kisil Valentina from Ukraine distinguished themselves, setting new benchmarks in their respective categories, and carving their names as best athletes of tournament.
The tournament’s closing ceremony was a tribute to Lithuania’s rich weightlifting legacy. In a ceremony that elicited emotions of pride and nostalgia, 33 rings – each symbolizing a year of Lithuania’s independence – were conferred upon individuals who have been the pillars of this journey. Their contributions, spanning across roles as athletes, coaches, and federation leaders, formed the backbone of a century of Lithuanian weightlifting. The 34th ring, presented to Prof. Dr. Milan Mihajlovic, symbolized the broader European collaboration and the shared aspirations of the weightlifting community.