SPORTS

Greek sailing pair rules local winds and waves, on course for victory

From the host nation’s viewpoint, yesterday’s Olympics competition was marked by the continuing domination of Sophia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa in sailing, the first ever qualification of a female swimmer for the 100-meter freestyle final, and Evangelia Psarra’s seventh placing in archery. In the 470 (double-handed dinghy) category in sailing, Bekatorou and Tsoulfa finished a poor 14th in today’s first race (and seventh overall), but came back to notch their fourth victory in eight races. Given the rule allowing teams to discount their worst race, the result will not affect their placement as long as they do not have a worse finish in their remaining three races. The Greek duo have a total of 21 net penalty points – after eliminating their worst result – and are comfortably ahead of Slovenia’s Vesna Dekleva and Klara Maucec, with 42 penalty points. They seem close to victory; the only concern is whether Bekatorou’s back, which she injured in May and had an operation on in June, will hold. She returned early to training, determined to make up for a disappointing seventh place at the Sydney Olympics. But here, the duo have dominated their class. «We had a good start, took advantage of the wind shifts and gradually overtook those ahead of us,» said Tsoulfa, referring to their come-from-behind victory in the eighth race. They finished 14 seconds ahead of Dekleva and Maucec, who had led for most of the race. In the men’s 470 category, Andreas Cosmatopoulos and Costas Trigonis are in sixth place after eight races. With 68 net penalty points, they are 11 adrift of third place. But they will have to recover their form to challenge for a medal: They finished 24th and 15th yesterday, although the first result, being their worst thus far, did not count. After three of 11 planned races in the Mistral (windsurfing) category, 1996 Olympic champion Nikos Kaklamanakis is in second place with nine penalty points, one adrift of Poland’s Przemyslaw Miarczynski. Twenty-one-year-old Nery Niagouara finished third in her semifinal heat in 55.02 seconds to qualify for tomorrow’s final in the 100m freestyle. Niagouara’s time is the seventh fastest among the finalists. The race was so competitive that Lisbeth Lenton, the Australian swimmer who held the world record of 53.66 seconds entering last night’s semifinal, did not qualify. To compound her misery, compatriot Jodie Henry set a new world record of 53.52 seconds. Evangelia Psarra made it into the quarterfinals of women’s archery by defeating Spain’s Almudena Gallardo 160-152. But she started tentatively and lost 111-101 to eventual winner Sung Hyun Park of South Korea. Weightlifter Natassa Tsakiri was fourth in the snatch portion of the women’s 63kg, but a lingering thigh injury caused her to fail her opening 117.5-kilo lift in the clean-and-jerk. Tennis player Lena Daniilidou, still suffering from the thigh injury she sustained on Tuesday, fought gamely but lost to No. 3 seed Anastasia Myskina of Russia 7-5, 6-4.