SPORTS

Windsurfer Kaklamanakis close to medal for his career’s finale

Nikos Kaklamanakis is looking to conclude his remarkable sailing career with a second Olympic medal in what is turning to be a nail-biter in the Mistral (windsurfing) class. Kaklamanakis, as well as his medal rivals, Brazil’s Ricardo Santos and Israel’s Gal Fridman, made the mistake of clinging to the right side of the course, where the wind was lighter, compared to the left side. «In the first race (of the day), I was trying to be close to Nikos and Gal, which proved to be a bad idea as we rounded very badly and sailors from the left side were coming faster. However, I finished ninth and that is a good result,» said Santos, who won the tenth race later in the day and is the overall leader with 37 penalty points. Fridman ended in eighth place and, after placing fifth in the tenth race, relinquished his lead to Santos. He is now in second place, with 40 points. Kaklamanakis rounded the first crossing in 15th place but improved steadily and ended up challenging France’s Julien Bontemps for fourth place. In the end, the Frenchman edged Kaklamanakis by a very small margin for his best placement thus far. Kaklamanakis is now third, with 42 points, after finishing fourth in the tenth race. Asked about his chances of winning a second gold medal, after the one at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Kaklamanakis said: «I think that everything is possible, so I’ll try hard and see what happens.» The final race is scheduled for tomorrow. Kaklamanakis also said that he feels more comfortable when a northerly wind, locally called meltemi, blows. Unfortunately, he added, such conditions prevailed only during the first race, which he won. There are no other Greek challengers for a medal in sailing. In the women’s Mistral class, Athena Frai is in 15th place, with a race to go. In the men’s Star class, Leonidas Pelekanakis and Giorgos Kontogouris came fifth in the sixth (out of 11) races and are 11th overall. In the Tornado class, Iordanis Paschalidis and Christos Garefis are in tenth place after six races, while Thanassis Pachoumas and Vassilis Portosalte are 17th in the 49er class after 12 (out of 16) races. In the new Olympic sport of women’s wrestling – freestyle only, not Greco-Roman – Stavroula Zygouri came very close to winning a medal. Unfortunately, the 36-year-old lost both her matches today, first the semifinal to the United States’ Sara McMann and third place match to France’s Lise Legrand. «I wanted that medal, but I was not in good condition. I didn’t have many matches to stand more confident on my feet. Nonetheless, fourth place is a big success and I dedicate it to all those who believed in me.» Greece’s first gold medalist in these Games, Nikos Siranidis, proved that he is much stronger as part of a duo with his synchronized diving partner, Thomas Bimis. Competing solo, in the men’s 3-meter springboard preliminary, he could manage no better than 28th and was eliminated. In track and field, Olga Kaidantzi advanced to the semifinals of the 200 meter. The 25-year-old was third in her first round heat, in 23.11 seconds and clocked 23.15 seconds in the second round, taking third place again and advancing to the semis. This is probably where her run will end. Kaidantzi is not a household name, but she finished fifth in the Under-23 European Championships in 2001 and part of the sixth-place relay team at the World Championships in Edmonton. Hammer thrower Alexandra Papageorgiou qualified for the final with a 68.58-meter throw, just over the 68.50-meter qualifying distance. This was an event where the top five qualifiers broke the previous Olympic record of 71.16 meters set by Kamila Skolimowska of Poland. Papageorgiou can achieve a 70-meter throw and anything higher would be regarded as a bonus. In the men’s canoeing, Andreas Kiligaridis was third in his heat and qualified for the semifinals of the 1,000-meter race.