SPORTS

Track and field team are represented in lean and mean fashion at Moscow’s World Indoors

Focused mostly on three major outdoor meetings later this year, according to officials of the national track and field team, Greece will be represented by a modestly sized team of just four athletes at the three-day World Indoor Athletics Championships beginning in Moscow today. «We may not be sending many athletes, but their performances rank among the [world’s] top eight, which makes us believe they can manage,» said team official Costas Spanidis. Representing Greece will be Stella Pilatou in the long jump, Alexandra Komnou in the 60-meter hurdles, Louis Tsatoumas in the long jump, and Dimitris Tsiamis in the triple jump. Despite qualifying, two athletes missed out because of injury and suspension. Sprinter Giorgos Theodoridis was hoping to compete in the men’s 60 meters but will miss due to injury. The national team’s other missing qualifier, triple-jump athlete Costas Zalagitis, was suspended for verbal misconduct cast against a leading official of SEGAS, Greece’s track and field federation. Spanidis emphasized that SEGAS is focused on three major outdoor track and field events scheduled for this coming summer – the European Cup in Thessaloniki, the European Championships in Gothenburg, and a World Cup event at the Athens Olympic Stadium. «We’ve never spoken about medals in Moscow. If we simply wanted to send a bigger Greek squad, we could have stuck to the international track and field’s qualifying standards,» Spanidis said. «The standards that we set are high enough to get athletes into the finals, and not merely participate. The important thing is that all our athletes taking part are young and have a future. Even Komnou, who is 27, can be seen as young. Essentially, she’s been competing for about two years.» Tsatoumas, competing in the long jump, has registered a season-best effort of 8.15 meters this year, which ranks fifth among the competition in Moscow. Theoretically, Tsatoumas can expect to qualify for the final with a 7.95-meter performance. Pilatou, competing in the women’s long jump, has registered a season-best effort of 6.67 meters this year, 12 centimeters over the qualifying standard, which ranks as the world’s seventh-best performance this season. Triple-jump athlete Tsiamis’s best effort this season, a 17.12-meter jump, is a national record. The national team has enjoyed limited success at previous World Indoors. Greek athletes have raked in a total of seven medals at the 10 preceding World Indoor events. Of these, three were gold, two were silver, and two were bronze. Greece’s best tally at a single event occurred in Paris in 1997. Back then, Harris Papadias won gold in the men’s 60 meters with a time of 6.50 seconds. Katerina Koffa also won gold in the women’s 200 meters in 22.76 seconds. Lambros Papacostas earned silver in the high jump with a 2.32-meter performance. Papacostas had also won silver two years earlier in Barcelona with a 2.35-meter jump. At the 1999 World Indoors, Katerina Thanou won gold in the women’s 60 meters with a time of 6.96 seconds. There were two Greek medal winners at the World Indoors in Budapest two years ago. Chrysopygi Devetzi won bronze in the women’s triple jump with a 14.73-meter performance. Sprinter Giorgos Theodoridis also won bronze in the men’s 60 meters with a 6.54-second performance. Today’s opening day of events will feature just one of the Greek team’s four members, Tsatoumas, in long-jump qualifying action. The remaining trio go into competition tomorrow.