Bronze medallists in the lightweight double sculls rowing Alexandra Tsiavou and Christina Giazitzidou, photo: sentragoal.gr
The Greek Olympic delegation returned to Athens with two bronze medals. Judoka Ilias Iliadis in the 90 kg category and Alexandra Tsiavou and Christina Giazitzidou – lightweight double sculls rowing – have won them.
This is the weakest participation in the Olympics since 1988, when wrestler Babis Holidis won the only medal for Greece and it was a bronze one. Rowing was the most successful sport for Greek athletes in the Games in London, who won fourth place in the coxless men’s four rowing and participated in two small finals.
Colour-bearer during the closing ceremony of the Games Spyros Gianniotis finished fourth in the men’s 10 km swimming marathon and did not win a medal. The performance of the athlete in fencing Vaso Vuyuka was good and she reached the quarterfinals and took fifth place in the rankings.
Competitor in gymnastics Vassilis Tsolakidis participated in the finals and ranked sixth on parallel bars. Competitor in RS:X class sailing Viron Kokalanis ranked at the same position. Athletes in synchronized swimming Despina Solomou and Evangelia Platanioti qualified eighth.
Greek athletes did not return with a medal for the first time since 1988. Two of them still managed to qualify and participated in the finals of their sports. Competitors in pole vault Costas Filipidis and javelin thrower Spyros Lembesis ranked seventh. The participation of Christos Volikakis in the small final of track cycling and the ninth place of Nikos Mavromatis in the shooting is among the best results.
Men's water polo team - the only group sport in which Greece participated, had been defeated yet in the groups and ranked ninth in the overall ranking.
According to some commentators, however, the results reflect the real capabilities of Greek sports. "When doping scandals broke a few years ago, many people engaged in the field of sports as well as journalists had said, "one or two "clean" medals or no medal is better than this shame." Now, some of them would probably say that the poor state of Greek sports is the reason for only two bronze medals and "it is taking us back in the times of Seoul and Los Angeles." However, if our athletes had returned with a dozen of medals from London, these same people would be suspicious about them. What do we want in the end? I think we are just looking for an occasion to murmur," former athlete and current professor at the Polytechnic School in Athens George Mavrotas wrote in his article in the commentators’ site protagon.gr.
"These games revealed the consequences of cuts in sports funding. I am afraid that the next games will reveal the cut incentives for sports. I do not think sport is a matter of more money. It is a matter of organization and proper use of the funds provided."
Another commenter, however, does not share the same opinion or at least not completely. According to an article by Spyros Seraphim on the same website, "professional sport in Greece is quite different from what it means to athletes in other countries. Our athletes went to London to present us after tremendous efforts in almost non-existent sports facilities. I think it's a miracle that we managed to win even those medals."
The author believes that if there were sports facilities in Greece, funding and a little more attention to athletes, they would be more successful in the Olympics Games in London. "They are talented and have great desire. But these are qualities of all athletes in the world and they are not quite enough to achieve sporting success. All these ridiculous epithets associated with the ambition and the "Greek" hearts of athletes cannot be sufficient if they cannot have excellent training, simply because they themselves cannot pay for the main costs for it."
The journalist’s criticism is acute. "The generation of athletes who took part in the Olympic Games in London could have been the last "lucky" one that received such a significant ... "support." Here we laugh. Bitter though...
Perhaps the next generation of athletes who will present our country in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will have to get there by rowing in plastic boats. Of course, neither the boats, nor the oars will belong to the Greek state.
And now, Olympic delegation, row to Rio de Janeiro. The Greek state wishes you a safe rowing and good luck. If you will accidentally win a medal, we will deliver a dozen of speeches in the cameras in which we will talk about "the power of the Greek soul" and the like in order to receive some of the applause that we always hear about athletes," the journalist ended his comment angrily.