SPORTS

Tsoulfa qualifies for Olympics 17 years after sailing gold

tsoulfa-qualifies-for-olympics-17-years-after-sailing-gold

Seventeen years after winning Olympic Gold at the Athens Olympics, with her partner Sofia Bekatorou, Emilia Tsoulfa, now 47 and a mother of three, has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, in the same sailing class, the 470 double-handed monohull dinghy.

Tsoulfa and Ariadne Spanaki, of the Piraeus Nautical Club, finished 18th at the World 470 Championships held in Vilamoura, Portugal, from March 5-13, but that was good enough to allow them to qualify for the postponed Tokyo Olympics. Another Greek crew, Maria Bozi and Rafailina Klonaridou, of Nautical Club Thessaloni, finished in 20th place.

Tsoulfa and Spanaki are far from being favorites at the Olympics, while Tsoulfa and Bekatoriu had gone to the Athens Olympics having won four straight World Championships, from 2000 to 2003. But the duo have been training for less than a year and, before she started training with her partner, Tsoulfa had not sailed competitively for 16 years. This was their first international event.

“It was a difficult competition. For us, it was our first international event and we faced the best crews, which have been training together for several years. This made us very anxious,” the crew’s coach, Andreas Papadopoulos, told Kathimerini.

“She did her three girls, and all of us, proud,” Tsoulfa’s fellow Gold medalist, Bekatorou, posted on her Facebook account.

Bekatorou made headlines earlier this year, when she revealed that a Greek Sailing Federation official had raped her in 1998, kickstarting what many see as an overdue reckoning, a #MeToo movement in Greece.