Olympic weightlifter David Katoatau, from the tiny Pacific island of Kiribati, has been making quite a name for himself during this month’s sporting extravaganza in Rio.
Whether or not he successfully lifts the weights in front of him, the 32-year-old sportsman always follows up each effort with an entertaining dance, smiles ‘n’ all, enthralling the crowd in the process.
And with the green color of the Olympic weightlifting backdrop perfect for a spot of special effects, YouTuber Night Lunch couldn’t resist chroma keying in some fitting movie clips to accompany Katoatau’s shimmying around the stage. Check it out above.
There is, however, a serious reason for Katoatu’s shenanigans. The weightlifter says he wants to draw attention to climate change, and the risk it poses to the existence of Kiribati, a low-lying island with 313 square miles of land and a population of just over 100,000.
Located 1,000 miles south of Hawaii, Kiribati is suffering “extreme coastal erosion not just of the beaches but also of the land,” its government has said.
— U.S. Embassy London (@USAinUK) August 16, 2016
“Most people don’t know where Kiribati is,” Katoatau told Reuters recently. “I want people to know more about us so I use weightlifting, and my dancing, to show the world.”
Katoatau, who two years ago won his nation’s first ever gold medal at any kind of global sports competition – at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland – said he wrote an open letter to the world in 2015 “to tell people about all the homes lost to rising sea levels,” adding, “I don’t know how many years it will be before [Kiribati] sinks.”
In the letter, Katoatau asks the world to take note of what’s happening to his nation. “The simple truth is that we do not have the resources to save ourselves. We will be the first to go,” he wrote. “It will be the extinction of a race. Open your eyes and look to the other low-lying level islands around the Pacific – they will soon fall with us.”
The dancing weightlifter from Kiribati has certainly made the world sit up and take notice, though how it responds to his nation’s plight remains to be seen.