Top status for Greek athletics

Greece will enjoy having both its men and women in the athletics European Cup as of next year, following the Greek national team’s results in France and Turkey over the weekend. Although the men’s team fared rather badly, ending last in the standings of the Super League in Annecy, France, the women’s team finished at the top of the lower tier, Division A, in Istanbul, Turkey, so the combined points have given Greece the ninth spot overall and ensured its presence at next year’s 12-member Super League. The format of the competition, renamed the European Championship, is changing in 2009, with the men’s and women’s Super League merging. «This is a very great success for Greece to have both teams in the Super League,» commented a happy Stergios Tsiftsoglou, the director of the Greek national team. «We had a great showing by the women and I want to thank the entire team for its effort.» Six Greek athletes won gold over the weekend, with only two of these being men. Periklis Iakovakis finished first in the 400-meter hurdles, clocking 49.15 seconds, while Louis Tsatoumas won a gold in the long jump with a 8.17-meter leap. Tassos Gousis in the 200 meters (second with 20.57 seconds) and Costas Douvalidis in the 110-meter hurdles (second with 13.59 seconds) were also impressive. In Istanbul, Piyi Devetzi won the triple jump with 14.68 meters, Fani Halkia opted for running the 200 meters instead of her usual 400-meter hurdles and won with a time of 23.33 seconds. Irini Kokkinariou won the 3,000-meter steeplechase with 9.37:07 and Afroditi Skafida surpassed 4.42 meters in the pole vault to claim gold too. The national 4×400-meter relay team also won the gold medal, featuring Halkia, Dimitra Dova, Katerina Syrou and Agni Derveni. They clocked 3.33:07. Devetzi also won silver in the long jump with a best of 6.74 meters. Dova also came second at the 400 meters with 54.18 seconds.