SPORTS

Greece gets no medals but plenty of hope from Paris

The national track and field squad returned home from the European Indoor Championship in Paris with the bittersweet knowledge that it had come very close to winning a medal, with five athletes making it to the finals in their events, but ultimately left empty-handed.

Most of the 14 athletes representing Greece in the French capital performed well, but the aim of collecting at least one medal was never attained for a variety of reasons.

Greece traveled to Paris with three main medal hopefuls, but inched closer to the podium thanks to a fourth: Costas Baniotis did the country proud by finishing fourth in the high jump, clearing a personal best of 2.32 meters in the final on March 5, while Dimitris Hondrokoukis’s fifth spot in his first major championship bodes particularly well for the future of the high jump in Greece. He also registered a personal best of 2.29 m.

The national team had expected more from Costas Philippidis, Louis Tsatoumas and Nicole Kyriakopoulou.

Philippidis finished fifth in the pole vault with a decent 5.61 meters on March 5, a few days after clearing 5.72 m, and took a risk by attempting to go over 5.76 m. in an effort to get onto the podium, but it just was not his day.

Tsatoumas on the other hand should have easily won a medal in the long jump, but was prevented from completing the qualifier due to injury, adding to his series of disappointments in major events. The long-jump champion had managed 8.21 m just a week earlier, while the athlete that eventually landed the bronze on March 5 got no further than 8 m.

On March 6, the last day of the championship, Greece’s sole athlete in action, Kyriakopoulou, failed to live up to expectations as she finished last in the pole vault final, clearing just 4.35 meters. Just a day earlier she had equaled her own national record with 4.55 m in the qualifier.

Athanasia Perra was Greece’s other participant in a final, finishing seventh in the women’s triple jump with her best effort at 14.01 m.

The end of the indoor season finds Greece with little to celebrate but a bit of fresh confidence about the new generation who may make their mark on the international level, perhaps not in Daegu, South Korea, at the World Outdoor Championship this summer, but more likely at the 2012 London Olympics.