Worlds in Paris, a major test for all before 2004

Greece’s track and field team will be seeking sturdy performances and medals at the World Championships, which begin in Paris tomorrow as the last major international event ahead of next year’s Athens Olympics. Star athlete Costas Kenteris, the reigning Olympic, World, and European champion in the 200 meter, will be going into competition not long after having registered the world’s best performance so far this season. He ran the 200 meter in 20.30 seconds, amid formidable competition, at Tsiklitiria, a Grand Prix event in Trikala, central Greece, earlier this summer. Fellow sprinter and medal hopeful Katerina Thanou, the current European Champion and a silver medalist at the Sydney Olympics, in the 100 meter, goes into competition on tomorrow’s opening day. She is scheduled to run her first-round heat at 11.30 a.m., Greek time, and is expected to advance to the event’s next phase, the quarterfinals, which will be contested later in the afternoon. With the exception of javelin-thrower Costas Gatsioudis, twice a medalist (silver and bronze) at world championships, and triple-jumper Voula Tsiamita, a gold medalist at the Sydney Olympics – both of which are battling to overcome nagging injuries – the national track and field team has arrived in Paris as a virtually full-strength unit. Greece will, for the first time ever, be represented in the Heptathlon – a women’s only event – at world championship level. The honors go to Argyro Strataki who begins her quest early tomorrow in the 100-meter hurdles, the first of seven events. Other Greek athletes scheduled to compete on tomorrow’s first day include hammer-thrower Alexandros Papadimitriou, a bronze medalist at last year’s European Championships in Munich; three discus throwers – Katerina Voggoli, the gold medalist at the Munich event; Tasoula Kelesidou, a silver medalist at the Sydney Olympics, and Stella Tsikouna – as well as Stelios Dimotsios, who will run the 400 meter.