Gold and silver lining

Athanassia Tsoumeleka won the women’s 20-kilometer walk and Chrysopygi Devetzi was second in the women’s triple jump, adding a gold and silver to Greece’s tally yesterday in the Athens Olympics. Veteran weightlifter Kakhi Kakhiasvili, who won gold for Georgia in 1992, and for Greece in 1996 and 2000, failed to win a medal yesterday. Greece now has five gold, two silver and two bronze medals. Tsoumeleka, who was seen as a complete outsider and surprise winner, was ninth in the European championships in 2002 and seventh in the world under-22 championship last year. Inspired by a home crowd, she took the walk title in a personal best time of 1 hour 29.12. She beat Olympiada Ivanova of Russia and Jane Saville of Australia. «I started slow in the first few kilometers until the 14th. I just followed others, but I was feeling good. After the 17th kilometer, when I heard people cheering for me and calling my name it gave me energy and I felt stronger. I had a good rhythm. In fact, I only remember seeing one warning and I was so happy being in the lead that I never saw the second one,» the 23-year-old Tsoumeleka said. «I wanted the medal so much, I thank God,» she said. After the race, an elated Tsoumeleka, who is from the western town of Preveza, said she had been inspired by veteran sprinter Katerina Thanou and Voula Patoulidou, the Greek 100-meter hurdles gold medalist in Barcelona. «Katerina Thanou and Voula Patoulidou, with her success in 1992, had moved me. In 1992 I was very young and didn’t understand very much,» Tsoumeleka said. And she referred to Thanou and Costas Kenteris, Greece’s 200-meter Olympic champion in 2000, and their withdrawal from the Games after failing to appear for a doping test. «What happened to these kids gave me strength. They are not to blame for what happened,» she said. Devetzi, who jumped 15.32 in the heats, one centimeter below the Olympic record, could not repeat it and cleared 15.25 to take silver. Frangoise Mbango Etone of Cameroon won the gold medal jump of 15.30 meters. Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia got bronze.

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