Archive for August 22nd, 2004

RE: Is Greece really that small, or a coincidence?

Apparently, the 11th winner of the 20km Walk, Athina Papagianni, is also from Preveza. I don’t know her (or at least, I think I don’t), but it is a surprise for me to see two people from Preveza’s Track & Field Club (named “Asteras”), have two big athletes.

When I was living in the area, I knew of only one person who was a good athlete (not international quality, but among the first 8 greek people in Decathlon, back in 1992-3). But I haven’t heard of anything else of Preveza people bring up other talents through the years. Preveza was a very “dead” place for track & field athletes. It was nice to see two of them now in Olympic games, on the same race, no less.

I guess things have changed there since I left Greece in 1997. When I was doing some 100m sprint and (mostly) javellin in 1989, we didn’t have much support from anyone. In fact, my father was not even happy with me training because he is an old fashioned man (“women should not do that stuff, they should just be respected housewives”), and back then not many women was training in general, especially in my area. I defied him of course, as I always had, but with the little support I had for my training effort and my… lazyness (yes, I am very lazy and always has been ;-), I didn’t go very far with javellin. Also, back then Greece was in the bottom of the international pile in Track&Field, so it just didn’t inspire me enough to try harder. Things have changed though, glad to see this.

Is Greece really that small, or a coincidence?

As I wrote a few days ago, I grew up just a few kms away from the village that Katerina Thanou greek sprinter is from (and i have met her parents and grantparents, but not herself).

Today, Athanasia Tzoumeleka took the gold in 20 Km Walk in Olympics. What’s weird is that I have met her and her parents (she is from Preveza, the capital of the district of 35,000 people that I am coming from). In fact, her father is a good friend of my father’s and they have collaborated at work in the past.

I _remember_ my mother telling me YEARS ago (when Athanasia was still a young teenager and promising greek champion for under 18 years olds) how her father supported her and helped her with her training in any way he could and how proud he was of her. Back then, Athanasia was doing 3,000 Km running IIRC, but she now seems to have changed to 20km Walk (didn’t know that).

So, out of the biggest athletics names in Greece, I have some sort of connection with two of them. Is Greece really that small, or is this just a coincidence? Makes you wonder. 😀