Medal for the record books

The national gymnastics team earned two medals, both bronze, at the European Championships in Amsterdam last weekend, one of the two for 16-year-old gymnast Lefteris Kosmidis, the event’s youngest medal winner. It was the first senior-level medal for the young athlete, who competed in the floor exercise event. Further highlighting his achievement, Kosmidis became Greece’s first 16-year-old to win a European senior-level medal in any sport. Spain’s Rafael Martinez won the gold with a score of 15.550 points for his routine. France’s Thomas Bouhail took the silver with 15.350 points. Kosmidis shared the bronze medal with Germany’s Matthias Fahrig. Both gymnasts tied on 15.275 points for their routines. Kosmidis, who was recently promoted to Greece’s senior gymnastics team, had ended fourth at last year’s European Juniors competition, staged here in Volos. Romanian gymnast Marian Dragulescu, a dominant figure in the floor exercise event and the winner of four gold medals at the 2004 European Championships, ended seventh in Amsterdam with a score of 14.300. Also competing at these Europeans in Amsterdam was Kosmidis’s older brother Xenofontas Kosmidis. «I feel proud. My two sons participated at this event and the younger one won a medal,» commented Thanassis Kosmidis, their father. «We brought him along for the experience, regardless of the fact that we did secretly hope that he could do well. The youngster, as it turned out, is a grownup.» Greece’s other bronze medal in Amsterdam came from Stefani Bisbikou in the balance beam event. Like Kosmidis, Bisbikou also shared her bronze medal – with Romania’s Steliana Nistor. Both accumulated 15.475 points. «It’s a medal I’d been waiting years for. It finally arrived. I believed in it a great deal, which is why I won it,» remarked the 19-year-old Bisbikou. «I’d realized that the gap between me and the other gymnasts was not that wide,» added the Greek gymnast, who began training at the age of 4 and went on to figure prominently in national competition. Bisbikou said she would now focus her efforts on September’s World Championships. Russia’s Yulia Lozhecko won the gold medal with a 15.675 score and Sandra Raluca Izbasa of Romania captured the silver with 15.525 points. «I believed that Stefani could attain the final,» commented Anastassia Donti, the medal winner’s trainer. «All was possible from that point on.»