Stars coming to Patras for Greco-Roman Worlds

The upcoming World Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships in Patras, western Greece, to be held between December 6 and 9, are shaping up as a promising event, with 16 medalists from last year’s Sydney Olympics registered to compete. Compared to Sydney, Greece’s national men’s team will be drastically reshuffled, with many promising newcomers in its ranks. Of the five athletes who competed at Sydney, only one, Amiran Kardanov (54 kg), who returned with a bronze medal, will compete. But Kardanov, who has been troubled by a leg injury in recent times, will probably be at less than full strength. Joining him will be Theofilos Iakovidis (58 kg), Aristidis Alexandridis (63 kg), Theocharis Kemeridis (69 kg), Felix Polyanidis (76 kg), Lazaros Loizidis (85 kg), and Theofilos Abatzis (130 kg). The women will be represented by Agoro Papavassiliou (46 kg), Sophia Poumbouridou (51 kg), Katerina Tsibanakou (56 kg) and Voula Zygouri (62 kg). With abundant new blood in the side, the national team’s coach, Iraklis Deskoulidis, avoided making any predictions about the team’s prospects. «The athletes are talented and well prepared, but inexperienced. Iakovidis, Alexandridis, Kemeridis and Ambatzis will be competing at world championship level for the first time. I don’t want to make any predictions about placings, but I believe that they’ll wrestle well,» he said. However, the coach of the national women’s team, Lia Nikolaou, was more optimistic about her side’s chances. The event, Nikolaou said, could produce Greece’s first-ever medal at world championship level in the women’s division. The World Freestyle Wrestling Championships begin in Sofia, Bulgaria today. Seven Greek wrestlers will compete. This time, Oswald will meet Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos tomorrow, at the conclusion of his visit. This forms part of the government’s latest tactic, of emphasizing its supervisory role and diminishing that of Athens 2004, the Games organizers, who are now, presumably, on a tighter leash.

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