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This Week in History: October 9th to 15th

October 10th:  

On this day in 1976, Greece’s 98-year old Dimitrion Yordanidis became the oldest man to compete in and subsequently complete a marathon. According to the Guiness Book of World Records, Yordanidis completed the 26-mile marathon course from Marathon, Greece to Athens in 7 hours 33 minutes. The organization considered him the oldest man to finish a marathon until Fauja Singh completed the Toronto Marathon in 2011 at the age of 100. However, the World Masters Athletics, the world governing body responsible for records in the sport, did not accept Singh’s proof of age and did not formally award him the record. 

October 13th:  

On this day in 1993, Andreas Papandreou’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won the general elections of Greece, making Papandreou the prime minister of Greece for the second time. He served the country for about three years until his health forced him to retire in January of 1996. Papandreou attended the American College in Athens and studied law at the University of Athens. A Trotskyite, he was imprisoned briefly by the dictator Ioannis Metaxas and, when freed, fled to the United States where he received his PhD from Harvard University, and obtained U.S. citizenship a year later. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he taught at Harvard, the University of Minnesota, and the University of California, Berkeley. When his father became Prime Minister of Greece in 1963, Papandreou gave up his U.S. citizenship, returned to his native country and won election to the Greek parliament – thereby jump-starting his political career.  

October 15th:  

On this day in 1821, Turkish Cypriot mobs hanged most of the Greek Cypriots in Larnaca and other towns. Many Greek Cypriots supported the Greek independence efforts that began in 1821, which led to severe reprisals by the Ottoman empire. Among those hanged on the 15th were an archbishop, five bishops, thirty-six ecclesiastics and many Greek Cypriots. By September 1822, not even one full year later, sixty-two Cypriot villages and hamlets had entirely disappeared. The property of the Church was plundered and the Greek Cypriots were forced to pull down the upper storeys of their houses, an order that remained in force until the British put the island under their control almost sixty years later. When Greece became independent in 1829, many Cypriots sought the incorporation of Cyprus into Greece, but it remained part of the Ottoman Empire. 

Also on this day in 1980, Apostolos Nikolaidis, the Greek footballer, passed away at the age of 84. Born in Bulgaria, Nikolaidis was a member of the Greek community. After his graduation from the Robert College in Constantinople, he first moved to Thessaloniki and then to Athens, where he joined Panathinaikos. He was a member of the team for more than 10 years and contributed to many different departments of the club and eventually became the manager of Greece's national football team. He was elected president of the Hellenic Football Federation and for many decades served as a board member of Panathinaikos AC before becoming president of the club in 1974. Many have said that his contribution was significant in the transformation of Panathinaikos and its becoming a successful multi-sports club. As an honor upon his death, his coffin was carried on the shoulders of eight athletes from different PAO departments including football, track, volleyball, and basketball. The home stadium of Panathinaikos on Alexandras Avenue in Athens was named after him in 1981 at a ceremony presided by the then Prime Minister Georgios Rallis. 

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