by George Liveris
Of our 31 Olympic Gold Medalists (1896 – 2008), there are 12 who should be regarded as the most prominent. Not because their first success was followed by others, but especially for two other reasons:
Firstly, because their victory was of international importance. So it was not merely a first victory and
Secondly, because in their subsequent careers, they demonstrated a sporting and social conduct similar and equivalent to that which should apply according to their popularity.
Our 12 prominent Olympic Gold Medalists by discretion of a just and wise judge are:
- SPYROS LOUIS: The first Olympic Marathon winner in 1896, who became a legend worldwide. The farmer from Maroussi, was the brilliant continuation of the glorious history of pioneering Greek sports. His success perpetuates our epic exploits.
- CONSTANTINOS TSIKLITIRAS: Essentially he was the first major genuine sporting talent by current standards and perceptions. He had rare natural jump, speed, explosiveness, competitive spirit and physical dexterity. He won 4 medals (1 – 2 – 1) in 2 Olympic Games (London 1908 and Stockholm 1912) to pass away the next year, during the Balkan Wars, while fighting in Bizani as a simple soldier. Tsiklitiras among other things was also the very first goalkeeper of Panathinaikos (1908).
- PYRROS DIMAS: The top medalist of all countries of all time, with 4 Medals (3 – 0 – 1). Moreover he is not a case of transcription or localization. A true Greek from Northern Epirus, he escaped from the regime, walked with his brother through the snowy mountains and arrived in Thessaloniki to become a Greek Junior champion.
- VOULA PATOULIDOU: By successively improving her individual record in hurdles, during the Games of Barcelona, she became the first female Greek Olympic Golden Medalist. It is so important that a woman showed how one can achieve high distinction.
- CROWN PRINCE CONSTANTINOS – ZAIMIS – ESKITZOGLOU: The first Gold Medal for Greece in Sailing. The first Gold Medal after 48 years (1912-1960). The only Gold Medal in men’s Sailing. Still in some dispute or hum and haw when it comes to reporting.
- STELIOS MIGIAKIS: Our first Gold Medal in the sports of Wrestling. Tsitas, Galaktopoulos and Thanopoulos were unfortunately not able to reach the top. This modest boy from EGS dominated in Moscow, but didn’t have the pleasure to be followed by other golden wrestlers.
- NIKOS KAKLAMANAKIS: The confirmation of effort, study and organization in the face of a surfing devotee. Success came in the unknown seas of Savannah in 1996. Was confirmed in 2004 with the Silver at Faliro.
- IOANNIS MELISSANIDIS:The big surprise in Atlanta in 1996 by a teenager. He captivated everyone with the way he moved and the grace of the dancing rhythm he possessed. He expanded our perception of Gymnastics. How he adored the Arts was shown by his later course.
- DIMOSTHENIS TAMPAKOS: Following in the footsteps of Melissanidis and the popularity that he brought to Gymnastics, Dimosthenis Tabakos with 2 medals (1 – 1- 0) brought even more new fans to the sport.
- AKAKIOS KAKIASVILI: A persona of Weightlifting, a closed type who stayed firmly in his own beliefs and the ethics of his distant homeland. He was then widely known as Kachi Kachiasvili and had won a Gold medal (1992) before following it with 2 more Gold medals, after becoming Greek.
- SOFIA BEKATOROU – AIMILIA TSOYLFA: The only Gold Medal from women outside of Track & Field. They won it in Sailing in the “470” class of the Athens Olympics in 2004. A small detail is that Sofia was at the time suffering greatly from her waist. In 2008 in Beijing in the “Yugling” class, Sofia with Papadopoulou and Kravarioti reached the Bronze Medal.
- PANTELIS KARASEVDAS: A holder of 3 Medals (1 – 1- 1) in the 1896 Olympics in Shooting, but he is listed here among the most prominent Olympic winners for other reasons. He is the best representative of the Shooters (John Fragoudis, George Vichos, George Orfanidis, Alexander and John Theofilakis, George Moraitinis, Jason Sappas, Alexander Vrasivanopoulos, Nikos Moraitis, Vangelis Chrysafis etc.) for everything they later brought to the Greek society. Pantelis Karasevdas is the one who with his personality in the Greek Parliament, provided Athens with the first true football stadium, for the club of the Capital and the National Team.