June 24, 2017
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Record breaking youth weightlifter trains with Olympic Gold Medalist in Rohnert Park

  • From left to right, Mike Gattone, Athena Schrijver, Olympic Gold Medalist Pyrros Dimas and Myles Ahead Gym owner Freddie Myles are seen together during one of Athena's training sessions. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Christina Molcillo
May 26, 2017

At first glance, Athena Schrivjer looks like any 16-year-old girl getting ready for summer vacation by hitting the gym; until you notice the amount of weight she puts on the barbell. On Thursday, May 18, she was at Myles Ahead Weightlifting with her coach of almost six years, Freddie Myles, waiting for the arrival of 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist Pyrros Dimas.

Schrivjer, a Santa Rosa native, has been weightlifting since she was 11 years old. She most recently competed in the IWF Youth World Championships, which took place April 4-11 in Bangkok, Thailand. She placed fourth overall, which is impressive enough, but while there she also happened to break an American record for her class: lifting 192 Kilos (423 pounds).

Dimas came to visit Schrivjer as a representative of USA Weightlifting, which is the National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of weightlifting. In his new role as Technical Director, he serves as head coach to USA Weightlifting’s elite athletes, works closely with the national coaching staff, and leads youth development and performance strategy. In person, Dimas is approachable and humble. A native of Greece, the first thing he did was apologize for his English, even as he kept a keen eye on Schrivjer’s technique as she lifted. It was clear he was in his element at the gym. Widely regarded as the greatest Weightlifting athlete of all-time, he won Olympic Gold in 1992, 1996 and 2000 for the nation of Greece. In a statement provided by USAW, he’d remarked, “I wish to be able to transfuse my passion and my experience in weightlifting to younger coaches and athletes.” Watching him interact with both Schrivjer and Myles that expertise shined through, whether the English was perfect or not. 

When Schrivjer was asked how she’d reached this level of achievement, she said, “You need to trust your coach, and I trust him. I told him to put the weight on the bar, and I’d lift it. And I did.” 

This visit to Myles Ahead gym was Dimas’ first for team USA, and the timing is great for both Schrivjer and her coach - she’ll be competing in the Youth Nationals in June in Atlanta.

When Myles was asked what he thought of her achievements so far, he remarked. “It’s a great accomplishment to finish fourth in the world.” This sounds like an understatement, but it will be interesting to see what records she’ll beat in Atlanta.