SPORTS

Gymnastics team flies to Holland aiming at several Worlds medals

Brimming with ambition, the national gymnastics team departed yesterday for the Netherlands ahead of the World Championship set to start on Saturday, October 16, in Rotterdam. The sport’s top competition will run through October 24 and the Greek athletes are aiming high and looking to bag some medals before they return in two weeks’ time. Most likely to win a medal for Greece is five-times European champion Vlassis Maras. Six months after his impressive performance on the horizontal bar in the English city of Birmingham, where he became the first athlete in the history of the Europeans to win gold for a fifth time on the same apparatus, he is confident about winning a fourth World Championship medal. «My preparation has gone smoothly and I am in very good condition. In the last few weeks I have been working on the details of my routine on the horizontal bar in order to get it perfect. I believe I will get a good result and I am looking forward to competing,» said Maras while still in Greece. «I will only be satisfied if I perform better than in the European Championship. I want to get better and better. My performance may also be a matter of chance – whether I am having a good day or not – but that is what I want from myself: first or nothing. I will take a risk, try to be perfect and it will not matter if I finish last again,» he said. «But if my routine goes well, then the medal is certain, I cannot miss out. Let’s not speak of medals just yet, though, as what I do want is a better performance than in Birmingham,» the 27-year-old added. Apart from the horizontal bar, Maras will compete in three more events in an effort to help the national team end up in the top 24 countries in the world. This would mean a representation of six athletes in next year’s World Championship in Tokyo, which serves as a qualifier for the 2012 Olympic Games. Apart from Maras, the Greek mission to Rotterdam consists of Lefteris Kosmidis, who also stands a good chance of getting a medal in the floor exercise, Vassilis Tsolakidis, Christos Lympanovnos, Babis Kailidis, Stavros Kekelos, Vaso Milliousi, Stephanie Bisbikou, Evgenia Zafiraki, Lina Mitrakou, Andriana Syrigou-Antoniou, Despina Grigoriadou and Maria Pitsikali.