SPORTS

Greek team betters its Sydney performance with 16 medals

Greek athletes earned two more medals, both silver, in the final weekend of the Olympics to end with 16 (six gold, six silver and four bronze), three more than at the Sydney Olympics four years ago. Among those who didn’t quite make it to the podium, freestyle wrestler Amiran Kardanov, a bronze medalist at Sydney, came closest. However, he lost crucial matches on Saturday, the semifinal to Russia’s Mavlet Batirov and the bronze medal match to Japan’s Chikara Tanabe, ending in fourth place in the 55-kilogram category. Also in freestyle wrestling, Apostolos Taskoudis earned sixth place in the men’s 66-kilogram class, as did Lazaros Loizidis in the 84-kilo class. Besik Aslanasvili, at 60 kilos, Emzarios Betinidis, at 74 kilos, and Alexandros Laliotis, at 96 kilos, did not advance beyond the pool stage. A lot of hopes had been placed on rhythmic gymnastics. However, the bronze-earning Sydney team has retired and Greece competed in the group all-around final with a younger team, which earned fifth place on Saturday. Yesterday, Elina Andriola was ninth in the individual all-around final. In track and field, there was the appearance of the 4×400-meters relay team in the event final Saturday. An accident midway through the race, however, prevented the relay quartet from challenging for higher than eighth. The third runner, Dimitra Dova, had her shoe pulled off at the changeover, and the option was abandonment or a gallant finish. They chose the latter. Sailing races were concluded on Saturday, with Leonidas Pelekanakis and Giorgos Kontogouris ending 11th overall in the Star class while Iordanis Paschalidis came 12th in the Tornado class. In cross-country cycling, Manolis Kotoulas was 45th on Saturday, while in the last event, the men’s marathon, Nikos Polias came in 24th in two hours 17 minutes and 56 seconds, seven minutes and one second behind winner Stefano Baldini of Italy. Baldini set a new record for the hilly classic course, beating the record of two hours 11 minutes and seven seconds held by the UK’s Bill Adcocks in 1970. In team sports, the men’s water polo team narrowly missed a bronze medal yesterday after a thrilling match against Russia, which it lost 6-5. Greece led 2-1 early in the second quarter but the Russians scored three times to make it 4-2 at halftime. The Greeks rallied to tie the game 5-5 in the fourth quarter, but Russia’s Marat Zakirov scored the decisive goal late in the game. «Some years ago, fourth place would have been an enormous success for us, but right now we feel very disappointed losing the Olympic medal,» Nikos Deligiannis told reporters about Greece’s best-ever finish at the Olympics. The men’s basketball team earned fifth place, matching the finish in Greece’s only other Olympic appearance, at Atlanta, by defeating Puerto Rico 85-75 on Saturday. Michalis Kakiouzis, who started in the place of captain Fragiskos Alvertis, was the top scorer with 20 points. The men’s handball team ended in sixth place after losing to France 33-15 on Saturday.