SPORTS

Leading gymnast in fine fettle ahead of Worlds

Based on current form, the young and talented Greek gymnast Vlassis Maras, already a world and European champion on the high bar, has an extremely solid chance for a medal at the upcoming World Championships in Australia, his coach remarked yesterday. «We’re on top again. I hope that we do as well in Melbourne. Vlassis showed that he’s in exceptional form. His performance was superb,» said Dimitris Raftis, referring to Maras’s recent gold medal at a major meeting in Stuttgart. Despite his impressive lead-up to last year’s Olympic Games, Maras failed to win a medal in Athens. The world championships are scheduled to be held in Melbourne between November 21 and 27. The national team’s selections for the upcoming World Championships were based on performances at the German meeting. Maras’s gold medal was awarded with some controversy. The Greek athlete was initially awarded silver, but strong protests from the stands prompted judges to re-examine their assessment of his performance. Maras ended up sharing gold with Slovenian Aliaz Pegan. Another Greek athlete, Vassilis Tsokalidis, returned from Germany with a silver medal for his routine on the parallel bars. Demosthenes Tambakos, who added to his string of international distinctions with a gold at last year’s Athens Olympics, finished eighth at the German meeting. He is hoping for major improvement in Melbourne. Judging by his Stuttgart performance, Tambakos does not seem to have perfected his current routine’s finale. The gymnast’s fall during landing in Stuttgart cost him a higher ranking. Other national team selections for the World Championships include Costas Barbakis, Maria Apostolidou and Stephanie Bisbikou.