RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — The Rio Olympics are already into their second week and have provided thrilling moments for the athletes and viewers alike. Anna Korakaki with her two medals, a gold in the 25m pistol and bronze in the 10m air pistol shooting events, and Eleftherios Petrounias with his gold medal in still rings in gymnastics are already heroes for Greece, inspiring young people with their athletic achievements. Petrounias’ performance on August 15 was spectacular. His strength and skill earned him 16.000 out of a possible 16.800 points. The reigning world champion in the event, Petrounias made the extremely difficult event look easy while his nearest competitor, silver medalist Arthur Zanetti of Brazil who earned 15.766 points, grimaced with the effort. Dennis Ablyazin of Russia won bronze with 15.700 points.
On August 16, Spyridon Gianniotis competed in the 10km marathon swimming event, marking his appearance in 5 consecutive Olympics. His silver medal-winning time 1:52:59.8 was also the gold medal time for Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands who out-touched Gianniotis for the win. The specialist in long-distance and open-water freestyle events competed in the 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, 2012 London, and now 2016 Rio games. The silver medal is the 36-year-old Gianniotis’ best result at the Olympics, adding to Greece’s total medal count of four, two gold, one silver, and one bronze. The event, according to the Associated Press, is also Gianniotis’ last. “Every single meter of the training, every single day and hour, it’s just come down to the perfect moment. I think that’s a really good way to go,” he told the AP.
The women’s duet synchronized swimming began on August 14 with the Greek team of Evelina Papazoglou and Evangelia Platanioti scoring well in the preliminaries to qualify for the finals on August 16. The team finished in 10th place.
In water polo, the Greek team faced Italy in the quarterfinals, outscored 9-5 against the tough Italian team. Greece faces Spain in the next round to determine the 5th to 8th place finishers in the event.
Sailing and track & field events continue for Greek and Cypriot athletes as the Rio Olympics wind down. Ekaterini Stefanidi qualified in 1st place on August 16 for the final in women’s pole vault with 4.6m.
Greek-American athlete Helen Maroulis is making history in the women’s freestyle wrestling competition since the 53kg weight class was added only this year. Though wrestling was an event in the ancient Olympics and made its modern Olympic debut in 1896, women’s wrestling debuted at the 2004 Athens games, making Rio just the fourth Olympics to highlight the highly-skilled women of the sport. At five feet three inches tall, the petite Maroulis is a powerhouse of an athlete. Her titles include 2015 World champion, 2012 World silver medalist, 2013 World bronze medalist, three-time Junior World medalist (2011 silver, 2008 and 2010 bronze), 2013 and 2015 World Cup champion, 2011 Pan American Games champion, six-time U.S. Open champion, and four-time WCWA women’s college national champion. Born in Rockville, MD to John and Paula Maroulis, 25 year-old Maroulis began wrestling at age 7 when her older brother needed a practice partner. Her parents, however made her quit the sport which at that time was not part of the Olympics. When it became an Olympic sport, Maroulis began her training in earnest. She missed making the 2012 team by one point, but is now on the verge of fulfilling her Olympic dream. Vogue magazine profiled the athlete in the article entitled Helen Maroulis Loves Winning, But She Loves Wrestling More which features the vogue.com video Olympic Wrestler Helen Maroulis Fights like a Girl. In the video, Maroulis talks about her love of wrestling and the sacrifice involved to make her Olympic dream a reality. Eating the same meal five times a day and grueling workouts are worth it as the athlete observed in Vogue, “I love sacrificing for a goal, that feeling like I’m investing in something. The fun part, the winning part: That’s two to five seconds where you’re getting your hand raised. Everything else is hard. You have to love the hard part.”