The economic crisis resulted in a streamlined delegation representing Greece at the Rio Olympics this year. The smallest Greek team of the last two decades struggled to make it to Brazil as a result of budget cuts that have resulted in inadequate training facilities and lack of funding for professional sports. Despite the obstacles, however, the Greek team secured six medals and 14 participations in finals marking the country’s fifth best performance since the first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896.
Now, with six new medals to add to the country’s grand total of 122, the athletes of the Rio Olympics 2016 will be remembered as the ones that showed that mind can triumph over matter – and money too!
This year’s Olympic medallists are:
Anna Korakaki – Gold in the women’s 25m pistol and Bronze in the 10m air pistol. She is the first female athlete to bring Greece two medals from the same game and the first athlete to achieve this since Konstandinos Tsiklitiras did this 104 years ago.
Katerina Stefanidi – Gold in women’s pole vault
Lefteris Petrounias – Gold in men’s rings
Spyros Gianniotis – Silver in men’s 10k open-water swim bringing Greece the first medal in swimming in Greek history despite being the oldest competitor of the event at the Rio Olympics at the age of 36.
Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis – Bronze in men’s 470 Dinghy Race
Congratulations to all of team Greece!
And one more hybrid Greek who did the country proud:
Helen Maroulis – Gold in Wrestling for the United States, she has described herself as “Greek by birth. Wrestler by heart, Passionate about life.” Her family moved to the United States in 1968 and acted as a wrestling partner for her brother who took up the sport when she was just seven years of age. She grew up in Michigan, however she loves Kalamos, Lefkada, that she visits often. “I’m half Greek, half American and I’m proud of it. I am trying to get Greek citizenship but there is a lot bureaucracy. Regarding the flag I compete for, America has treated me beautifully and has supported me as an athlete,” she is quoted as saying in an Athens News Agency report. She almost competed for Greece after being cut by the US team for the London Olympics, however Greek red tape prevented her from competing under the Greek flag.