Congratulations to the USA Greek American and Greek athletes who brought home medals for the USA and Greece. Axios!
Helen Maroulis won the USA’s first gold medal in women’s wrestling beating Japan’s Saori Yoshida, 13-time world champion and three-time reigning Olympic champion. “I kind of forgot that I was wrestling for a gold medal,” Maroulis said. “I was dreaming about this match so much that I was just wrestling her. Then when I was done, I was like, I get a gold medal now! Oh, cool.”
Born in Athens, Ekaterini (aka Katerina) Stefanidi won the gold medal in the women’s pole vault for Greece. Competing since her youth, Stefanidi’s road to victory also includes an athletic scholarship at Stanford University. Stefanidi, who lives in the United States, enjoyed great success as a member of the Stanford track and field team. She won two NCAA championships and five conference titles for Stanford; three outdoors in the Pac-10/Pac-12 and two indoors in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. She holds Stanford records indoors and outdoors and earned six All-America honors.
Greek shooter Anna Korakaki won gold and bronze in the 25-meter pistol and 10-meter air pistol. She is the first Greek to win two medals in the same Olympics since 1912 for Greece. “Dear Greeks and the world, thank you for showering all your love and support,” she tweeted to her over 2k followers. “I’m thankful to all of you. Much love.”
Marathon swimmer Spyros Gianniotis won the silver medal for Greece at the photo finish of men’s 10 km swimming race. “Only today I realize what I’ve achieved. It was a repressed desire, mine and Nikos’,” the athlete said referring to his longtime coach, Nikos Gemelos. He said he was particularly moved by the welcome he received when he stepped off the plane in Athens and thanked everyone who supported his effort. “I end my career in the most beautiful and unique way,” he said, “patience, persistence and pain.”
The Greek sailing team of Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis won the bronze medal in the men’s 470 Dinghy Sailing race. They have been the first national team since 2008 to have participated in every important competition throughout the world. “May your leading Olympic distinction and success, a very worthy fruit of your strenuous personal efforts and high morals, serve as a steady tailwind ‘in your sails’ both in your future in sports as well as your subsequent overall career,” said President Prokopis Pavlopoulos of Greece.
Lefteris Petrounias became the third Greek gymnast in Olympic history to win the gold medal in the men’s still rings for Greek gymnastics in 12 years when the Olympics were last hosted by Greece. The first winner was over 100 years ago at the 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Petrounias received another Olympic honor when Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, came down onto the competition floor during the final to congratulate Petrounias personally. Lefteris dedicated his Gold Medal to his father, who passed away suddenly last October 2015.
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