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SPORTS

Fed Up Greek Sailing Champion Will Compete for Another Country

ATHENS – Greek sailing champion Vasileia Karachaliou giving up on her country, citing a lack of support for training and said she will instead compete for another country, and blamed Greek Olympic Committee Chairman Spyros Kapralos.

Karachaliou accused him of making threats “in a nationalist guise” because she plans to represent a different country in her sport said Kathimerini, but it wasn’t identified for whom she would compete.

Kapralos said that he will not help the laser radial athlete switch country because the Greeks, like himself, want to see her competing with the Greek colors although Greek shipping magnates routinely fly flags of other countries to avoid taxes.

Going public,  Karachaliou said that, “I prefer to wait as long as it takes, even if you decide to exact revenge by destroying my next Olympiad in order to have peace of mind and elementary respect for my efforts,” in a social media post.

She is a many-time national champion in laser radial sailing which is an individual competition and won gold at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Series in the USA and bronze at the 2017 Laser & Laser Radial European Championships in Barcelona.

Now ranked second in the world, she qualified for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo where Greek weightlifter Theodoros Iakovidis retired after failing to qualify for the finals, also blaming the government and committee for lack of support.

Iakovidis won the 2018 Mediterranean Games, took silver at the 2020 IWF World Cup, and participated in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio but said he, too, has given up on competing for his country.

Nearly breaking down in talking to reporters after he didn’t qualify, he talked about the difficulty of trying to be an Olympic athlete without enough support from a state in the country where the games were born.

He said he was given only 200 euros ($226) a month from the Hellenic Weightlifting Federation while he was training, and he often couldn’t afford gas and had to go to practice on foot.

“I’m sorry that my voice is trembling, but these are my last moments on the National Team,” the weightlifter said from Tokyo. “My performance does not reflect an effort of 100 percent. I faced a few problems with injuries after the European Championships during the period from April through May.”

He said he came to the games with only a month’s preparation and training because the committee wouldn’t help him. “I lifted more kilograms than I had during my last training session and I can’t complain. We chose to enter into a challenge that required more than our capabilities,” he said as he retired for good.

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