First-day golds for Greece at Med track and field

TUNIS – The first day of track and field events at the Mediterranean Games in Tunis yesterday produced more gold medals for the Greek team, this time courtesy of an up-and-coming athlete, Aris Gavelas, in the men’s 100 meters. The result provides hope for the establishment of a new generation of athletes to add to the team’s seasoned members before the Athens 2004 Olympics. Besides Gavelas’s win, two more gold medals were captured by Greek athletes earlier in the day. Arete Abatzi triumphed in the women’s discus throw, as did Pericles Iakovakis in the men’s 400-meter hurdles. Clocking a time of 10.14 seconds in the final, Gavelas set a new national record. I didn’t think about the opponents I’d be up against. I just went into the race for gold, said the athlete. It was Greece’s third consecutive gold medal in the event at the games. Alexandros Terzian left his opponents behind in 1993, while Angelos Pavlakakis made it two in a row for the national team four years later. It became tradition and had to be continued. But words aren’t necessary, just work, Gavelas said. Discus thrower Abatzi had set the tune earlier in the day, winning gold in the women’s event with a throw of 61.42 meters. She had not been selected to compete at the recent World Championships at Edmonton, despite possessing the credentials. I feel that I was unfairly treated for the World Championships because I’d thrown in what was needed, performed consistently, but wasn’t chosen. Fortunately, I won gold here, Abatzi said. The athlete said that she believed her success at Tunis was just the beginning. I think my performance will improve because I haven’t reached my full potential, said Abatzi. My objective is to throw the distance needed for a medal at the European Games, she added. For his gold medal in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, Iakovakis clocked a time of 50.21 seconds, far slower than the 48.87 time he had registered at a recent meet. The athlete said he had had to combat strong head winds, particularly during the race’s second half. Schalke and Borussia Dortmund both complained yesterday about playing Champions League matches following the stunning events at New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon. UEFA finally agreed to postpone yesterday’s matches, including Olympiakos’s match against Manchester United, drawing criticism that it had reacted too late.

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