Home, unsweet home, as Greek wrestlers perform below par at 46th World finals

Having walked away with just one medal to its credit, a bronze, and 10th place as the next best effort by a team member, the national Greco-Roman wrestling squad, which has brought glory to the country in the past, failed to live up to expectations at the 46th World Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships, in Patras, western Greece. The event, which ended yesterday, had originally been scheduled to take place at New York’s Madison Square Garden on September 26-29, but was transferred following the September 11 terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, the efforts of Greece’s sole medal winner, Xenophon Koutsioubas, who competed in the 130-kilogram category, were not enough to ease the disappointment felt by athletes, officials and fans. According to one retired wrestler, a star during his day, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Greece’s poor showing in Patras should not be attributed to any lack of ability in individual athletes, but to a lack of communication between them and their coaches during competition. Greek wrestlers don’t lack anything in the faculties of technique and fitness. Wrestling is a mental sport. The athlete must believe what he is told in the team’s corner. Our athletes don’t believe, said the veteran. I don’t know whether it’s possible for them to have their own exclusive coaches, but I do know that we are now at a crucial point before 2004, he added, referring to the countdown ahead of the Athens Olympics. In his post-competition comments, the national squad’s head coach, Aristidis Grigorakis, reacted against the criticism. We’ve won a total of six bronze medals at 46 world championships. Petros Galaktopoulos and Babis Cholidis won two apiece, Dimitris Avramis added a fifth medal in 1999, and Koutsioubas another, Grigorakis said, who added that some team members who did take part, such as Avramis, were hampered by injury, while others, including Costas Thanos, the bronze medalist at the Sydney Olympics, did not participate at all because of injury. However, Grigorakis took responsibility for his team’s performance but characterized the final outcome as respectable, considering the circumstances. Grigorakis also attacked suggestions by critics toward hiring foreign coaches for additional expertise. We don’t need foreign coaches. The federation ought to let us make our selections as we see fit, and we’ll prove our worth. Stoa Nikoloudi was built in 1936, and was a late work by Alexandros Nikoloudis (1874-1944), one of the most famous architects in prewar Athens. The building is not a typical work of his, even though the architect designed his own residence on the top floor. The interior of the residence is decorated in the Beaux-Arts style, of which Nikoloudis was the main representative in Greece. He was the favorite architect of the bourgeoisie, and one of the first to break away from rigid neoclassicism. The recently restored Livieratos Mansion on Patission and Ipirou Streets, built in 1908, is an example of this style. Nikoloudis was sometimes in favor with the statesman Eleftherios Venizelos, to whom he suggested the construction of an ornate neo-baroque court building in Makriyianni, along the lines of the Palais de Justice in Brussels, though in slightly better taste.

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