Rowers bag 3 medals at Worlds

Greece’s national rowing team returned yesterday from New Zealand with three World Championship medals – one better than what its coach had expected. The Greek crew in the men’s coxless fours, consisting of Stergios Papachristos, Yiannis Tsilis and brothers Nikos and Apostolos Goudoulas, surprisingly finished second only to the French in last Friday’s final, even though they had started the race in fourth. In windy conditions, the Greek men exceeded expectations and snatched the silver from the hosts and the British right at the end. «We had a very good race and, if you know Athens, you will know that we are used to waves,» explained Apostolos Goudoulas. On the same day Alexandra Tsiavou and Christina Giazitzidou won the bronze in the women’s lightweight double sculls, for the second consecutive year on the Worlds podium. Despite their poor start due to the strong winds, the Greek pair, a medal favorite even before the championship started, upped their pace and finished almost three seconds behind winner Canada. «We had a very bad start, as we lost direction and tried to sort it out. This made us tired, but then we focused on our own efforts without looking at our rivals. We are happy for the medal, which is like a promise for the future,» said Giazitzidou. Greece then added a third medal in the championship held at Lake Karapiro, on New Zealand’s north island, securing a bronze in the men’s coxless pairs on Saturday. Giorgos Tziallas and Yiannis Christou finished third in the final to vindicate expectations for a podium finish. The Greeks clocked six minutes and 36 seconds, finishing behind the New Zealanders and the British. «We tried to stay close to Britain and New Zealand and attack in the first part of the race, but they were too strong for us. We then secured the third spot very early,» said Christou. «We are very happy with the bronze medal because there were many upsets in this championship,» he added, dedicating the medal to his wife and 3-week-old son. Greek rowers are now setting their sights on the next World Championship in 2011, which will crucially serve as the criterion for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. «Next year will be difficult due to our efforts to qualify to the Olympics,» said Giazitzidou yesterday. «We have no time to rest and must get straight back into racing mode.»