Lithuania rakes in the gold

  • 2006-11-29
  • By Arturas Racas

THE BIG GUY: Savickas, who defended his title as world's strongest man last week, had to share the limelight with three fellow Lithuanians after a historic week in sports.

VILNIUS - It's not often that a country boasts three world victories in one week, but now Lithuania can. Last week, dancers Arunas Bizokas and Edita Daniute won gold at the Standard Dance World Championships, while Zydrunas Savickas defended his title as the strongest man in the world and Edvinas Krungolcas won the world fitness championship in Vilnius. The most celebrated victory was that of dancing duo Bizokas, 28, and Daniute, 27. After accusations that Daniute had used performance-enhancing drugs, the pair was not sure they would be allowed to participate in the championship, held in Denmark.

Permission was granted just a few days before the tournament, and the pair went on to prove their participation was not in vain. The Lithuanian couple finished first among 82 pairs in all five of the championship's events.

But before officially receiving their world championship medal, the dancers will have to wait for a final decision by the Sports Arbitrage Court in Lausanne, which could still strip the couple of their title.
Earlier this fall, traces of the prohibited stimulant sibutramine were discovered in Daniute's blood during drug tests. The International Dance Sports Federation disqualified her from competing for three months. The dancer appealed the decision. The arbitration court allowed the Lithuanian pair to participate in the World Championship, although it has yet to make an official decision on Daniute's case. The dancer claims she ingested the prohibited substance through legal diet pills.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian weight-lifting idol Savickas, 31, defended his title as the world's strongest man in Reikjavik. Not only did he beat Russian Michail Kokliajev by two points in the stone ball lifting event, but he set a new world record to boot. Savickas ended the competition with 80.5 points, Kokliajev with 78.5, and Lithuania's Vidas Blekaitis took fourth place with 70 points.
Savickas, who weighs 160 kilograms, broke three world records in September 2005 and won the IFSA Strongman World Championship in Quebec. He is also the only Lithuanian to squat over 400 kilograms.

But the Lithuanian weight-lifting medals don't end with Savickas.
Jolanta Mileriute won gold at the World Fitness Federation's world championship in Vilnius on Nov. 25. The 22-year-old claimed the women's light-weight category, while Russian body builders won both the women's and men's heavy weight tournaments. Some 50 athletes from 14 countries participated in the championship.

And to crown Lithuania's epic week in sports, Edvinas Krungolcas, 33, won the World Pentathlon Championship, which was held in Guatemala on Nov. 19. His fellow Lithuanian competitor Andrej Zadnep-rovskij won bronze.