There's an Important Message Behind Olympic Weightlifter David Katoatau's Dance Moves

Source: AP
Source: AP

After successfully lifting 769 pounds above his head at the men's 105 kg, Olympic weightlifter David Katoatau twirled off the stage, circling his arms over his head in a joyful moment that caught viewers' attention. 

That was the point. 

Katoatau's moves are more than just a victory dance — they're his way of raising awareness about the impact of climate change on the country he represents. 

According to Reuters, the 32-year-old athlete from Kiribati, a country in the central Pacific, made dancing his signature after losing his family's home to a cyclone. 

Katoatau said he wrote an open letter last year speaking out about the threat rising tides have on the entire country. "I don't know how many years it will be before it sinks," he told Reuters.

In 2012, the Telegraph reported that Kiribati could be one of the first "climate-induced migration[s] of modern times," forcing its 113,000 citizens — most of whom populate just one of the country's 33 islands — to relocate. In 2014, the Church of England sold land in Fiji to Kiribati for exactly this purpose.

"Most people don't know where Kiribati is," Katoatau told Reuters. "I want people to know more about us so I use weightlifting, and my dancing, to show the world."

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Marie Solis

Marie is a Slay staff writer with focuses in culture and class. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

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