Top 18 of 2018
It was a year to remember for Greek sports, and AGONAsport counts down the top 18 Greek sporting highlights of 2018.
18. DIMITRIOS TSIAMIS REWARDED FOR YEARS OF HARD WORK
36-year-old Dimitrios Tsiamis won bronze in the triple jump at the European Championships in Berlin. This was his first-ever medal in a major competition, showing that good things come to those who wait.
17. ACHIEVEMENTS BY TRACK AND FIELD AND ROWING YOUNGSTERS
Greece won a plethora of medals at major competitions for the junior and youth categories in these two sports. In track and field, Greece won four medals at the European U18 Championships. Greece then won two medals at the World U20 Championships, including a high jump gold medal from Antonios Merlos, which was Greece’s first gold in the event since 1998. At the Summer Youth Olympics, Greece won two track and field medals including a gold in the girl’s javelin throw from Elina Tzengko, who also broke Youth Olympic record. Furthermore, Emmanouil Karalis set a U20 pole vault world record in February, but was sidelined for the rest of the year due to injury.
In rowing, Greece began the season by winning a gold and a silver at the World U23 Championships. Greek athletes also had four fourth place finishes in the event. Then, at the World Junior Championships, Greece won one gold and two silvers. At the European U23 Championships, Greece won a grand total of seven medals, five of them being gold medals. Finally, Greece won gold at the Summer Youth Olympics in the girl’s pair with Christina Bourmpou and Maria Kyridou. The duo from Thessaloniki arguably stood out the most in 2018, winning gold at not only the Summer Youth Olympics, but also at the World Junior Championships and European U23 Championships. They also finished fourth at the World U23 Championships as 17-year-olds.
16. BEST YOUTH OLYMPICS EVER
After previously having never won a gold medal at the Youth Olympics, the Greek team won three golds, one silver, and two bronzes at the Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires. The gold medals came from Alexandros Kalpogiannakis (boys’ sailing), Elina Tzengko (girls’ javelin throw), and the duo of Christina Bourmpou/Maria Kyridou (girls’ rowing).
15. THE REVIVAL OF GREEK VOLLEYBALL
Greece’s men’s and women’s volleyball teams both secured qualification for the 2019 European Championships. The men have not competed in a major tournament since the 2009 European Championships, while the women have not competed in a major tournament since the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
14. WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION IN MEN’S BASKETBALL
Despite missing several key players throughout the qualification period, Greece’s men’s basketball team won their first nine games in qualifying for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. As a result, Greece became the first European team to qualify for the upcoming World Cup, and will make their fourth consecutive appearance at the event.
13. MARIA BELIBASAKI’S SILVER MEDAL
The sprinter made the switch to the 400 m event this year, and proved that it was definitely the right decision. After being disqualified from the final of the World Indoor Championships due to lane infringement, she came back strong at the European Championships in Berlin where she won silver and broke Fani Halkia’s Greek national record.
12. SWIMMING MEDALS
Kristian Gkolomeev won silver in the men’s 50 m freestyle at the European Championships, breaking the Greek national record along the way. Apostolos Christou also won bronze in the men’s 100 m backstroke.
11. BOYS WATER POLO ON TOP OF THE WORLD
Greece won gold at the Youth (U18) World Championships and at the Junior (U20) European Championships. Greece also won gold at the 2017 Junior World Championships, so this shows that the future of Greek men’s water polo looks very bright.
10. WOMEN’S WATER POLO BACK IN THE MIX
After not winning a medal in a major competition since 2012, Greece’s women’s water polo team won silver at the European Championships. With the average age of the players on Greece’s roster being 23, the girls showed that this could be the start of a new golden era for them.
9. PARASKEVI PAPACHRISTOU’S EUROPEAN TITLE
The Greek triple jumper won gold at the European Championships, which was her first gold medal in a major competition at the senior level.
8. MILTIADIS TENTOGLOU’S EUROPEAN TITLE
The 20-year-old long jumper won gold at the European Championships, which was also his first gold medal in a major competition at the senior level.
7. OLYMPIACOS’ & AEK’s EUROPEAN SUCCESS
The Erythrolefki had a great year in Europe, including two trophies. The men’s water polo team won the LEN Champions League, and the women’s volleyball team won the CEV Women’s Challenge Cup. The men’s volleyball team were finalists in the CEV Challenge Cup, and the women’s water polo team were finalists in the Women’s LEN Trophy. The women’s basketball team also made history by becoming the first Greek team to ever compete in EuroLeague Women. The men’s soccer team started from qualifying and survived a tough group to make the knockout rounds in the UEFA Europa League. Finally, the men’s basketball team had a solid year in Europe, reaching the EuroLeague quarterfinals.
AEK also had a good year in Europe. Their highlight was their men’s basketball team winning the Basketball Champions League Final Four, which they hosted at OAKA. The men’s handball team also made the final of the EHF Challenge Cup.
6. ANNA KORAKAKI’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GOLD
Shooter Anna Korakaki won gold in the 10 m air pistol event at the World Championships, becoming the first Greek shooter (male or female) to ever win gold at the World Championships. She is also ranked number one in the world in the event.
5. ELENI CHATZILIADOU’S WORLD TITLE
Eleni Chatziliadou won gold in the women’s kumite +68 kg at the World Karate Championships. With karate being a new sport added to the 2020 Olympics, she has now established herself as one of Greece’s biggest hopes to win a medal in Tokyo.
4. STEFANIDI/KYRIAKOPOULOU GOLD AND SILVER IN BERLIN
Early in 2018, Ekaterini Stefanidi almost did not compete at the World Indoor Championships due to injury. She eventually did compete and won bronze, breaking a streak of four consecutive gold medals in major competitions. Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou came back after missing the 2017 season due to pregnancy. She failed to qualify for the World Indoor Championships, which seemed like a low point in her career. The two pole vaulters would turn around their years, and go on to dominate at the European Championships. Stefanidi won gold, and Kyriakopoulou won silver on what was a memorable night for Greek athletics.
3. PETROUNIAS FIGHTING THROUGH INJURY TO BECOME WORLD CHAMPION
Gymnast Eleftherios Petrounias initially announced that he would not compete at the World Championships due to injury. However, he would later postpone his surgery and compete despite the pain. He went on to win gold in the men’s rings for the third consecutive time, this after winning his fourth straight European title earlier in the year.
2. GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO’S OUTSTANDING NBA SEASON
The Greek NBA star led the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA playoffs. He had a great season, averaging a double-double with 26.9 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was also named to the All-NBA Second Team for the 2017-18 season.
1. STEFANOS TSITSIPAS’ BREAKTHROUGH SEASON
Stefanos Tsitsipas’ 2018 season was one to remember, as the Greek tennis prodigy rose from 91 to 15 in the ATP rankings. Notable results include becoming the first Greek to win an ATP title, which he did in Stockholm, as well as reaching the finals in both Barcelona and Toronto. In Toronto, he became the youngest player to ever defeat four top 10 players in the same tournament. Tsitsipas had six top 10 wins in 2018. He also won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, a tournament featuring the best players in the world aged 21 and under.