Weightlifter Matthias Steiner won gold at the 2008 Olympics, but it was a bittersweet moment for a hidden reason.
Matthias Steiner is a world-class weightlifter with a strong track record of sporting accomplishments. Prior to the 2008 Olympic Games, he promised his wife Susann he would win a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately, she passed away in a tragic car accident the summer before the Games were set to begin. However, in what has been described as an "emotional final" at the 2008 Olympics, the weightlifter experienced the greatest success of his career: he successfully became an Olympic gold medallist in Beijing. His story is now an inspiration to all; to never give up, to keep moving forward.
In January of 2008, he qualified for the Olympics by winning the Beijing Pre-Olympic Tournament with a total of 423 kilograms. Then, at the 2008 Olympics, Steiner experienced several failures within the competition. The event had turned into a close call between Steiner and his competitors, Evgeny Chigishev and European and World champion Viktors Ščerbatihs (the latter was touted as the tournament favorite). During the competition, underdog Steiner failed in his third snatch attempt and ranked fourth with 203 kilograms. At that point in time, Ščerbatihs was in the position to take the lead in the clean and jerk, but he failed in his second attempt.
Steiner, too, failed in his first clean and jerk attempt, and Chigishev took the lead with 250 kilograms in the clean and jerk. Shockingly, Ščerbatihs failed in his third attempt as well. This forced Steiner to increase his last attempt to 258 kilograms in order to win gold. With a successful clean and jerk of 258 kilograms, and a total of 461 kg, Steiner became officially an Olympic gold medalist. When it was time to receive his medal, he stood on the podium with a photograph of his late wife, who would otherwise have accompanied him to the Games.
When he accepted his medal, Steiner was choking back tears and lovingly kissed the picture of his wife Susann. "I managed to lift it because I had this strong, innermost urge," he affirmed. "I am not the superstitious type, I do not believe in higher powers, but I hope she saw me. I wish." His official website reads, "Steiner’s passionate motivation to realize his dream of Olympic gold was made real in memory of his wife, Susann. These loving words of encouragement went a long way in his emotional road to the podium."
Since then, the weightlifter has participated in a number of tournaments. Most notably, he competed in an inguinal hernia. Sadly, during the 2012 London Olympics weightlifting competition, Steiner was injured. He attempted to pull 196 kilograms but was hit in the neck by the barbell. While he was not seriously hurt, he had to abandon the competition as a result of his injury. In the year 2013, he officially resigned from the sport and went on to participate in Season 8 of the German TV dance show Let's Dance, finishing third. Nonetheless, no matter where he is now, his wife Susann is surely looking down at him, proud.