Greek debut at Salt Lake brave but fruitless

SALT LAKE CITY – Greece’s debut in competition at Salt Lake City’s Winter Olympics was, as anticipated, far from glorious. Despina Vavatsi and Stavros Christoforidis, who competed respectively in the 15- and 20-kilometer biathlons yesterday, both finished a place ahead of last in an event with many entries. Vavatsi finished in 67th place out of the 68 athletes who completed the course, while Christoforidis was 85th among 86 finishers. Following her disappointing showing, Vavatsi claimed she could have done better if her coach was with her in Salt Lake City. «If my personal coach, Costas Vourzoulakis, with whom I’ve been training with since I was eight, were with me, my psychological state would have been different,» Vavatsi remarked. Greece, a country without a tradition in winter sports and not a single medal to boast about in any major international competition, has sent just a handful of athletes to Salt Lake City, mainly for symbolic purposes. Both Vavatsi and Christoforidis will also compete in shorter biathlon events today, the 7.5- and 10-kilometer events respectively.

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