Navarino Challenge 2019: Nick Galis Guest of Honor

Second from left: Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports Lefteris Avgenakis, Costantza Sbokou-Constantakopoulou on behalf of TEMES, Nick Galis, Minister of Tourism Harry Theocharis, and Theresa Cissell, Qatar Airways Country Manager for Greece and Cyprus. Photo by Elias Lefas

ATHENS – The award-winning Navarino Challenge lived up to its theme “Sports Unite People” as 2,700 of all ages participated in the activities for a 7th consecutive year, October 11-13 in Messinia and Costa Navarino.

With ideal weather conditions and a rich program of more than 30 activities, the event, hosted by The Westin Resort Costa Navarino was recently recognized as the best sports event in Greece, and supports the ideals of the Olympic Movement, contributing towards the development of a peaceful and better world without any discrimination, through sports.

The wellness event promoted the benefits of exercise and raised awareness of the Mediterranean diet in the effort to fight childhood obesity. Furthermore, considering the global issue of inactivity of youth, the event exhorted young people to get involved in games and sports, through the Active Kids program, by adding even more kids’ activities.

Navarino Challenge brought together athletes, families and children from 40 countries, including among others, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, Moldavia, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the USA.

Open water swimming by Vikos at Navarino Bay. Photo by Elias Lefas

The full schedule of the event included activities for the whole family. On October 11, Greek Hall of Fame basketball icon Nick Galis, this year’s guest of honor, tipped off the 4on4 basketball tournament by Nutramins that was held with the participation of the basketball legend Joe Arlaouckas and two-time Olympic silver medalist Alexandros Nikolaidis. The day continued with many sports activities and ended with the screening of Barney Spender and Roddy Gibson’s award-winning documentary “The Road to Sparta” at the Agora, Costa Navarino.

Messinia at the center of sports tourism

On October 12 sport action was held in the Municipality of Pylos-Nestor that supported the event for another year and helped in the smooth implementation of the activities at Navarino Bay with the assistance of local companies. For the first time in the event, participants had the opportunity to try sea kayaking and headed to the island of Sphacteria with the support of Explore Messinia.

Open water swimming enthusiasts had the chance to compete in a chip-timed event at the beautiful Navarino bay from the scenic Pylos harbor, covering the unique 1 mile (1.6 km) route of the open water swimming race by Vikos. The swimming event was held with absolute safety with the approval of the Hellenic Swimming Federation, according to FINA’s regulations and the support of Pylos Hellenic Coast Guard and Pylos-Nestor Municipality.

The route was designed by the national federal technical coach, Nikos Gemelos.

Tip off by Hall of Fame basketball legend Nick Galis at the 4on4 basketball tournament by Nutramins. Photo by Mike Tsolis

Silver Olympic medalist in open water swimming Spyros Gianniotis, world champion Kelly Araouzou, European champion George Arniakos and significant athletes of the Greek National Open Water Swimming Team participated in this year’s race, in the presence of Pylos-Nestor Mayor, Takis Karvelas.

Lifeguard Patrol, Pilos Dive Center group of divers and event’s medical partner Athens Medical Group ensured the safety of the swimming race.

“Challenge The Wind” interclub sailing race of triangle course with OPTIMIST and LASER 4.7 boats was co-organized with the Maritime Athletic Pylos Association “Nestor”.

The sea activities also marked the beginning of the “Navarinia” event for the 192nd anniversary of the Battle of Navarino, which will culminate this week.

In addition, Pylos came alive with local flavors and scents. A station with traditional lalagia, loukoumia, pasteli created by Poseidonia and Pylos Poems welcomed visitors.

A visit to the refurbished family home of the Olympic champion Kostis Tsiklitiras was held with the presence of Olympic medalist Spyros Gianniotis.

All water sports were also supported by the following partners: Poseidonia, Pylos Association of Enterprises for Tourism Development, Karalis Beach Hotel, Karalis City Hotel & Spa.

Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes with the event’s medal made of seagrass by PHEE. Photo by Babis Giritziotis

On Saturday night, the official airline Qatar Airways welcomed guests on the special night A Night to Remember by Qatar Airways. In the presence of Minister of Tourism Harry Theocharis and Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports Lefteris Avgenakis, Qatar Airways honored great sports personalities. In particular, the Hall of Fame basketball legend Nick Galis was honored for his contribution to sports by Costantza Sbokou-Constantakopoulou on behalf of TEMES, along with the Minister of Tourism, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports, and Theresa Cissell, Qatar Airways Country Manager for Greece and Cyprus. The Greek-American ultramarathon runner and the event’s ambassador Dean Karnazes was awarded by the Minister of Tourism. Greek gold Paralympic medalist and world champion in boccia Grigoris Polychronidis was awarded by Byung Moo (Theofilos) Shin, President & Chief Executive Officer of Samsung Electronics Hellas. Silver Olympic medalist Spyros Gianniotis was awarded by the Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports, while journalists Minas Tsamopoulos and George Thanailakis undertook the presentation of the athlete and the award. Two-time Olympic medalist in rowing Vassilis Polymeros was awarded by Ms. Petri Logara, Operations Manager of Ford Motor Hellas. World karate champion Eleni Chatziliadou was awarded by Cissell, while bronze medalist in sailing world championship Maria Tsamopoulou was awarded by Stefanos Theodorides, Managing Director of TEMES. The event was presented by Joe Arlauckas with music by the Pylos Conservatory duo.

Qatar Airways Puzzle Challenge contest continues

Qatar Airways surprised participants with the Puzzle Challenge competition created through a special application. The contest continues until October 21 with a gift of two round-trip airline tickets to over 160 places across the globe on Qatar Airways’ global network. A Night to Remember by Qatar Airways was assisted by Kayak, Karoulias, Lafazanis, Nestor, while the specially designed awards of the event, were created by PHEE and Nestor Winery.

Kick boxing champion Alexandros Nikolaidis at the Ford Go Further half-marathon in Voidokilia. Photo by Elias Lefas

On October 13, professional and amateur runners tested their skills on the routes of 5km by Samsung (running & dynamic walking), 10km by PlantBox and Ford Go Further Greek Half-Marathon (21.1km). The Half-Marathon route is described by runners as one of the most beautiful around the world, and the 5km route also impressed participants. Navarino Challenge was included in World’s Marathons world community with runners from the Sport Club with people with special needs from Kalamata, “Diaforozo,” celebrating their participation at the event one day before the International White Cane Day (October 15). The routes were designed by the former marathon runner, holder of national best performance on the classical route, running coach and director of All About Running, Nikos Polias. During the event, all participants were timed. All running races are co-organized with Messiniakos Gymnastic Club, EAS SEGAS Peloponnese Region and the approval of the Hellenic Athletics Federation [SEGAS]. Hellenic Rescue Team – Messinia Department and the event’s medical partner, Athens Medical Group, ensured the safety of the races.

Later on, the children’s 1km race (supported by VIKOS) took place, with the dynamic presence of children from the wider region as well as clubs such as Messiniakos, GC Akritas 2016 and Pylos Maritime Sports Club.

The eco-friendly event included: a) strictly smoke-free areas for the start and end points of the Navarino Dunes runways, b) declaring the beautiful Voidokilia beach, which the runners crossed, as strictly plastic-free, and c) offered participants an eco-friendly bag by Luanvi, event’s official sports supplier.

This year’s participants received a medal made only of seagrass from the event’s official supporter, PHEE, a company that innovates by promoting the principles of “green” entrepreneurship and the re-use of natural resources.

Moreover, the event offered each participant an olive tree by PlantBox. At the same time, all participants received high quality cosmetics be Messinian Spa.

A special surprise from Samsung awaited participants of Navarino Challenge, with the exceptional artwork of artist Nathan Makris, that depicted top athletes, Nick Galis, Spiros Gianniotis, Alexandros Nikolaidis, Grigoris Polychronidis, Periklis Iakovakis and Dean Karnazes. Visitors had the opportunity to take a picture with them and post their photos on social media.

Sea kayaking to the island of Sphacteria with the support of Explore Messinia. Photo by Elias Lefas

Navarino Challenge supports: a) the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Health, Prolepsis with a program on Food Aid and Promotion of Healthy Nutrition, DIATROFI, and through the Captain Vasilis and Carmen Konstantakopoulos Foundation: b) WWF Greece and c) Karkinaki, through the GivenGain online platform: https://bit.ly/33KTNhD.

Navarino Challenge is part of the #BeactiveHellas 2019 program of the European Commission and was held under the auspices of the General Secretariat of Sports.

The event was held under the auspices of the Greek National Tourism Organization with the approval of the Hellenic Swimming Federation.

Navarino Challenge was co-organized by Costa Navarino, The Westin Resort Costa Navarino and Active Media Group with the support of the Municipalities of Pylos-Nestor and Trifilia.

Hashtags: #navarinochallenge #costanavarino #sportsunitepeople #eatwell #runwell #livewell

The 1 km race for kids at Navarino Challenge 2019. Photo by Babis Giritziotis
Visit to the refurbished family home of the Olympic champion, Kostis Tsiklitiras, with the presence of Olympic medalist Spyros Gianniotis. Photo by Babis Giritziotis

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