SPORTS

Russians edge out theirGreek rivals for gold

Two Greek athletes came extremely close to winning gold medals at the European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, yesterday, but were outperformed late in their contests by Russian opponents on both occasions. Olympic champion Fani Halkia settled for the silver medal in the women’s 400-meter hurdles after being overtaken late in the final stretch by Yevgeniya Isakova, who won gold with a 53.93-second performance. Halkia ended second with a time of 54.02 seconds. Ukraine’s Tetyana Tereshchuk-Antipova ended third in 54.55 seconds. The Greek athlete was sidelined by injury last year but recovered well enough to go to the Gothenburg event having clocked Europe’s best time this season, 53.77 seconds. The other Greek athlete to succumb to Russian competition on the day was the triple jumper Pygi Devetzi. In a thrilling final whose outcome was determined at the very end, Devetzi, who looked set for gold, was deprived of the honor when Russia’s Tatyana Lebedeva overtook her on her final attempt. But, even so, the Greek athlete appeared content at the end as the two athletes embraced and saluted fans in the stands once the battle was over. Lebedeva, who was placed third with a sixth and final jump to go, registered 15.15 meters, a championship record, to leave Devetzi in second place. Devetzi led all the way with a 15.05-meter jump, her best for the day and entire season, on her first attempt. Another Russian, Anna Pyatykh, who looked destined for the silver medal but dropped to bronze after Lebedeva’s last-round effort, registered a 15.02-meter performance, her best ever, on her last attempt. Two Greek runners qualified for the men’s 400-meter hurdles. Minas Alozidis ended second in his semifinal with a time of 49.31 seconds, a personal record. It was the second-fastest qualifying time. Running in the other semifinal, Periklis Iakovakis captured first place but registered a slower time of 49.43 seconds, which ranked as the fourth best in the semifinals. In his post-race comments, Iakovakis said he had held back in his semifinal heat but would «unwind in the final.» Commenting ahead of today’s final, Alozidis noted: «We’ve worked to get here. I hope all goes well.» In qualifying competition of the men’s hammer throw, Alexandros Papadimitriou was well below his usual standards with a 72.94-meter performance that left him in 17th place among 23 contestants. After three days of competition, Greece has tallied two silver medals.