Hosts open medal tally with gold and bronze

Almost unheralded, divers Nikolaos Siranidis and Thomas Bimis gave Greece its first taste of gold in the Athens Olympics yesterday when they won the men’s synchronized diving 3-meter springboard event yesterday. A little earlier, Greece celebrated its first medal of these Games, a bronze picked up by weightlifter Leonidas Sabanis in the 62kg category on the third day of competition. The medals were welcome relief after the shock of Greece’s top track stars – Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou – dodging an IOC doping test on Thursday. Siranidis and Bimis beat Germany’s Andreas Wels and Tobias Schellenberg and Australia’s Robert Newbery and Steven Barnett. Earlier, Sabanis, a 33-year-old lieutenant in the air force, lifted 167.5 kilograms in the clean and jerk for a total lift of 312.5 kilograms. China’s Shi Zhiyong took gold with 325 kilograms and Le Maosheng was second. Le lifted the same weight as Sabanis but was 22 grams lighter than the Greek. But no sooner had Greece learned of the bronze medal than it also heard that weightlifting hero Pyrros Dimas, flagbearer of the Greek team in the opening ceremony, had been taken to hospital after spraining his wrist in training yesterday. Dimas, now in the 85-kilogram category, has won gold in the past three Summer Games. Another serious blow for Greece came when the International Gymnastics Federation’s appeal commission ruled yesterday that world champion Vlassis Maras would not compete in the high bar finals. Greece had protested that the 9.725 points he had been given on Saturday were lower than it should have been (as he was the first competitor on the apparatus). Olympics organizers said things were running smoothly – apart from the disruption caused by high winds yesterday and on Sunday.

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