NEWS

Greek judoka dies more than 2 weeks after balcony fall

Eleni Ioannou, a member of the Greek Olympic judo team who was hospitalized in critical condition after falling from her boyfriend’s third-floor apartment balcony more than two weeks ago, died yesterday. The Red Cross hospital said Ioannou, 20, died in the intensive-care unit where she had been hospitalized since August 7 with multiple fractures to her head and body. The story of the love-struck judo star captured the hearts of Greeks when neighbors said Ioannou had jumped from the balcony of her boyfriend’s apartment after quarreling with him. Ioannou, a student at the Athens Gymnastics Academy, was a promising Olympian in a sport that had only recently become popular in Greece. With only four years of experience, she had won three national championships, and a bronze medal in 2002 in the Balkan championships. A competitor in the 78kg-plus event, she either fell or hurled herself from the balcony after an argument with her boyfriend, Giorgos Chryssostomidis, 24. He himself jumped from the same balcony two days later and remains in a critical condition at Athens’s Evangelismos hospital. Ioannou had become somewhat of a local celebrity in the Athenian suburb of Nea Ionia. «Everyone was proud of her. She helped kids in the neighborhood to have dreams,» said Nikos Drakopoulos, a printer who lives across the hall. Friends and relatives said the couple’s argument on August 7 was minor, and they were shocked at its consequences. «It was a small fight, something silly,» said Chryssostomidis’s cousin and downstairs neighbor, Paul Michaelides. «It started about who would play solitaire on the computer.» The fight escalated, and Ioannou eventually threw herself from the balcony, they said. She fell onto a concrete driveway behind the apartment building. Police questioned Chryssostomidis and released him. But he was inconsolable. «He was depressed. He was very upset,» said Evangelia Michaelides, Chryssostomidis’s great-aunt and neighbor. Two days later, as Chryssostomidis was having lunch with his grandmother, he suddenly stood and bolted for the balcony. «He was sitting there eating, and he just got up and jumped,» Michaelides said. «His grandparents were there, but they couldn’t stop him.» (AP)