Rio 2016

The Dancing Weightlifter Is Your New Favorite Olympian

Kiribati weightlifter David Katoatau might not have won a medal in men's 105kg weightlifting, but that didn't stop him from becoming a hit with Olympic fans. Katoatau put on some serious dance moves after each lift, to the delight of everyone in attendance.

At a time when emotions are high and many are feeling the gravity of competing on sport's biggest stage, it's wonderful to see someone having this much fun. Best of all, even in defeat, Katoatau gave the audience one last dance, his longest of all. This is one of those moments where it feels like this is what the Games are all about. Though he didn't medal, he still looked happy to be there.

This isn't the first time he's danced when weightlifting has put him in the spotlight. He did it at the Commonwealth Games two years ago, and he did it during the opening ceremony in Rio when he was his tiny island nation's flag-bearer. It's not just about his infectious smile, though. He dances for a reason.

"Most people don’t know where Kiribati is. I want people to know more about us so I use weightlifting, and my dancing, to show the world," Katoatau told Reuters. "I wrote an open letter to the world last year to tell people about all the homes lost to rising sea levels. I don’t know how many years it will be before it sinks.

"We don't have the resources to save ourselves," said Katoatau of the country with a population of just over 100,000.

There needs to be another honorary event for Katoatau because his time in the spotlight was far too short. 

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record, but has never met the fingernail lady. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, The Rumpus, and other digital wonderlands. Follow him @dlukenelson.