Greek athletes ready for 2018 Winter Olympics
The small Greek team will be represented at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Just four athletes (two men and two women) will compete under the Greek flag, the lowest amount the Greek team has sent to the Winter Olympics since 1980. It must be noted that Greece sent a total of seven athletes to Sochi 2014, and the largest team Greece has ever sent was in 1998, where 13 Greek athletes competed in Nagano. Although in the past Greeks have competed in a wide variety of winter sports such as biathlon, bobsleigh, luge, skeleton, ski jumping, and snowboarding, this time Greece will only participate in alpine skiing and cross-country skiing.
Although Greece has never won a medal at the Winter Olympics, participation alone is a massive achievement for these athletes who have worked so hard despite little support and recognition from their home country. Of course since Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the Greek delegation gets to march first during the opening ceremonies.
Sophia Ralli was the first athlete to enter the Olympic Stadium on Friday night during the parade of nations, as she was chosen to be Greece’s flag bearer. The 29-year-old from Naoussa in Central Macedonia will be competing in her third consecutive Olympic Games. She is an alpine skier, and will ski in the women’s slalom and giant slalom events. As a result of her participation, Naoussa can proudly say that they have sent athletes to the Winter Olympics every single time since 1964.
Maria Danou is the other woman on the Greek team this year. At 27 years old, she is competing in her second Olympics, as she previously participated in Vancouver 2010. Like Ralli, she also hails from Naoussa, though she now lives and works in Switzerland. She is a cross-country skier and will ski in the women’s sprint event.
Apostolos Angelis will also be competing in his second Olympics in cross-country skiing, having previously been a member of the Greek Olympic team in Sochi 2014. He will be racing in the men’s sprint event. The 24-year-old is from Metsovo in Epirus, a town that has sent athletes to every Winter Olympics since 1992.
Ioannis Antoniou is the only first-time Olympian on this Greek team. He is set to compete in alpine skiing, particularly in the men’s slalom and giant slalom events. In addition to being an alpine skier, he is also currently a university student in Thessaloniki. However, the 23-year-old was born and raised in Karpenisi, and will have the unique honor of being the first athlete from Karpenisi to ever compete in the Winter Olympics.