SPORTS

Media are set their homework on the ‘unknown’ Olympic sports

In its effort to maximize attendance at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Alpha Bank, a sponsor of the event, has begun a campaign aimed at familiarizing locals with sports that are relatively unknown in Greece. Earlier this week, the bank – which, incidentally, recently announced plans to join forces with the National Bank of Greece in one of the country’s biggest merger deals – presented three sports, trampolining, tae kwon do, and fencing, at the capital’s indoor Peace and Friendship Stadium. All in all, a total of 64 presentations for fans and journalists have been scheduled to take place in various cities around Greece and in Cyprus. Sports journalists, who face the responsible task of informing the country’s masses about the myriad of Olympic events in the lead-up to the Games, have been attending special seminars in Athens, Thessaloniki and Volos. More sessions have been planned for Patras and Iraklion, in Crete. Without a doubt, most local sports fans focus their attention on just a handful of national sports, primarily soccer and basketball. Other sports also generate considerable interest when athletes excel at international level, as has been the case with Greece’s weightlifting team. The encouraging turnout at Alpha Bank’s exhibition saw athletes from all three aforementioned sports display their skills, including tae kwon do, whose recent Greek successes have surprised sports fans here. Though a relatively unknown activity in Greece, the sport has, ironically, produced several world-class athletes recently. Last year, Michalis Mouroutsos had the country happily stunned when he won a gold at the Sydney Olympics. His success was recently reinforced by three teammates, Elli Mystakidou, Magda Seirekidou and Thanassis Balilis, who all won bronze medals at last week’s World Tae Kwon Do Championships in South Korea. Besides the construction of infrastructure projects, local fans’ increased awareness of various sports is also a vital factor that will contribute to the success of the Athens Olympics. As plants’ natural tendency is to spread out over a wide area, there is something magical in making new discoveries, in the fact that one can come across a plant that is found nowhere else in the world, or even in Greece, said Iatrou, whose contribution to the book drew from his seven years of work on his doctorate on endemic plants.