David Katoatau became a fan favorite during the men’s 105-kg weightlifting in Rio thanks to his infectious personality and the way he danced off the platform after every lift. What many in attendance or watching at home didn't know is that dancing is a tool for Katoatau to raise awareness about a serious problem in his country,
The small island nation of Kiribati sits in the Pacific Ocean, northeast of Australia. It is being destroyed. Rising sea levels are destroying homes, and it's unclear how much longer Kiribati can sustain itself without intervention from the rest of the world. Katoatau explained to Reuters:
"I want people to know more about us so I use weightlifting, and my dancing, to show the world. 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."
It's easy to forget that these amazing athletes are people. People who have stories and lives and worlds we know little about. Not everyone is a sponsored physical machine who has been preparing for gold for years. Some, like David Katoatau, are just lifting and dancing to shine a small light on a country that needs help. Read his open letter about the plight of Kiribati, you owe it to yourself.