Dinko “Dean” Lukin, a tuna fisherman from Port Lincoln, South Australia, became the only weightlifting gold medallist in Australian Olympic history when he won the super-heavyweight division at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He also won gold medals at the 1982 and 1986 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and Edinburgh respectively. Following his victory in Los Angeles, he carried the Australian flag at the closing ceremony.
Lukin’s father, also Dinko, was one of many political refugees from Yugoslavia who settled in Australia during the Olympic year of 1956. He cut cane in Queensland, worked on a Sydney-based fishing trawler, then moved to Port Lincoln and established a fishing fleet which exploited the lucrative Japanese appetite for blue-fin tuna. Lukin was always a large youngster, known in the Port Lincoln under-14 football team as “Dino the Dinosaur”. He caught his first tune at the age of nine, and began lifting weights around the time he reached his teens. For a long time he regarded weightlifting as a pleasant diversion from his true calling, tuna fishing, and refused to engage in full-time training.
Fortunately for Lukin’s prospects in Los Angeles, the Iron Curtain boycott of the 1984 Games removed some top Russian, Bulgarian and East German contenders from the field. After the first round at the Games, Lukin trailed the American Mario Martinez. Finally, though, he won the gold with a lift of 240 kilograms. Next day he was asked if he would compete in the Australia Games the following January. “You’re joking,” he said. “That’s slam-bang in the middle of the tuna season.”
Harry Gordon, AOC Historian