Greece ready for Glasgow
With the 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships set to begin on Friday, many Greek athletes will look to make history as Greece is sending its largest team since 2005, which includes several medal contenders.
The three-day event will take place at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. Greece will be participating for the 34th time, having won a total of 29 medals in the past (five gold, 13 silver, and 11 bronze). The last edition of this event took place in Belgrade, Serbia, back in 2017 where a small Greek team of just seven athletes took part. Nevertheless, that tiny team was able to win three medals. Ekaterini Stefanidi won gold (women’s pole vault), Konstantinos Filippidis won silver (men’s pole vault), and Paraskevi Papachristou won bronze (women’s triple jump). 1996 was Greece’s best European Indoor Championships to date, winning five medals (but zero gold).
This year, Greece will send 17 athletes to Glasgow and hope to build on the success from not only Belgrade, but also from last year’s European Championships (outdoor) in Berlin where Greece won six medals. This is the largest team Greece has sent to the European Indoor Championships in 14 years, and that’s even while missing several big names such as Maria Belibasaki, Antonios Mastoras, Elisavet Pesiridou, Lykourgos-Stefanos Tsakonas, and Dimitris Tsiamis.
One event that stands out for Greece is the women’s pole vault. Defending champion Ekaterini Stefanidi will be looking for her eighth consecutive medal at a major competition. If she wins gold, it will be her sixth gold in the last seven major competitions. Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou is seeking her second consecutive medal and fourth overall, after winning silver last summer at the European Championships in a historic final where Stefanidi won gold. Kyriakopoulou is currently ranked second in 2019 out of the 19 female pole vaulters headed to Glasgow, while Stefanidi is fifth. Also competing will be 22-year-old Helen-Claudia Polak, who will be participating in the second senior-level major competition of her career. Last year, she made her debut at the European Championships and made it to the final.
Perhaps Greece’s biggest hope for a gold medal this year is 20-year-old long jumper Miltiadis Tentoglou. The youngster from Grevena in Macedonia won gold at last year’s European Championships, and he is ranked first out of the 14 male long jumpers headed to Glasgow this year.
The men’s pole vault competition is another event where Greek fans will have a big interest. Konstantinos Filippidis won silver two years ago in Belgrade, and 19-year-old Emmanouil Karalis is currently ranked fifth out of the 14 competitors in this year’s event.
Despite not having competed at all in 2019 due to injury, Paraskevi Papachristou is still one of the favorites for gold in the women’s triple jump. She has won four medals in major competitions over the last three years, including a gold at last year’s European Championships.
In the men’s 60 metres, 20-year-old Konstantinos Zikos of Trikala will be making his debut in a major competition at the senior level. He may even win a medal, as he is ranked fifth out of the 48 competitors in that event. Also representing Greece in that event will be 34-year-old Efthimios Stergioulis and 31-year-old Panagiotis Trivyzas. In the women’s version of this race, Rafailia Spanoudaki will be flying the Greek flag. The 24-year-old from Rhodes is taking part in her fourth major competition over the last two years, and is quickly becoming a regular in the national team.
Veteran Konstantinos Douvalidis will participate in the men’s 60 metres hurdles, an event in which he finished seventh in 2013 and sixth in 2015.
For the first time since 2009, Greece will be represented in the women’s high jump, with Moldova-born Tatiana Gusin finally starting to reach her potential after a few years of injury struggles. On the men’s side, experienced Konstantinos Baniotis will be looking for his first medal at a major competition. The high jumper from Komotini had finished fourth at both the 2011 European Indoor Championships and the 2012 World Indoor Championships, and also has one fifth and two sixth place finishes at major competitions. Gusin is ranked eighth out of the 26 female high jumpers going to Glasgow, while Baniotis is fifth out of the 19 men.
Irini Vasiliou will be Greece’s lone representative in the women’s 400 metres, while Nicholas Scarvelis will be the only Greek in the men’s shot put.
Middle-distance runner Andreas Dimitrakis will be competing in the men’s 1500 metres event, marking the first time since 2013 that he is competing in a major competition, and only the third time overall.
GREEK TEAM FOR THE 2019 EUROPEAN ATHLETICS INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS:
60 metres: Efthimios Stergioulis, Panagiotis Trivyzas, Konstantinos Zikos
1500 metres: Andreas Dimitrakis
60 metres hurdles: Konstantinos Douvalidis
High jump: Konstantinos Baniotis
Pole vault: Konstantinos Filippidis, Emmanouil Karalis
Long jump: Miltiadis Tentoglou
Shot put: Nicholas Scarvelis
60 metres: Rafailia Spanoudaki
400 metres: Irini Vasiliou
High jump: Tatiana Gusin
Pole vault: Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou, Helen-Claudia Polak, Ekaterini Stefanidi
Triple jump: Paraskevi Papachristou