SPORTS

Flying over all obstacles

Constantinos Douvalidis shaved another five hundredths of a second off his national record on Saturday as he took gold in the 110-meter hurdles at the European Under-23 Athletics Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. The Greek champion from Drama clocked 13.49 seconds to win Greece’s only gold medal at the event. It was the third time this year Douvalidis has broken the record at the distance, following his 13.59 seconds at the Greek Championship in June and 13.54 seconds at the Tsiklitiria meeting at the Olympic Stadium on July 2. In Debrecen he finished ahead of Belgium’s Adrien Deghelt (13.59) and Italy’s Emanuele Abate (13.66). The event’s organizers put on Zorba the Greek for Douvalidis to celebrate just after crossing the finish line, in what was a most memorable moment for this rising star’s career. «I am extremely pleased and very happy,» he said after his win started sinking in. «I enjoyed the race and had a great challenge that helped me achieve the record time. I raised my arms and celebrated just before the finish line because I was so happy to see I would be finishing first.» «This year I have had many problems with injuries at the start of my training, but today I had confidence and got in to win the race. I am still young and I have time ahead for better races and more success, as long as I am healthy,» said an ecstatic Douvalidis. He was quite reserved about his immediate future, suggesting that his goal at the moment cannot be the coming World Championships in Osaka, Japan. «I am planning for the Olympic Games in Beijing next year instead,» he stated. Greece’s only other medal in the championship came in the women’s high jump, with Antonia Stergiou winning silver. She jumped 1.92 meters with her third effort, finishing just behind Russia’s Svetlana Shkolina, who made the same height with her first effort. Ebba Jungmark from Sweden finished third (1.89m). «This event was particularly important for me so I am very pleased. I showed that I can perform well also in major competitions by making the jumps I want. Gradually I will get to reach my potential in major competitions, I am certain about that,» said Stergiou.