As the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are currently underway with the Opening Ceremony taking place- AGONAsport.com brings us a preview of Greece’s athletes and full coverage throughout the event. The Greek team will consist of 95 athletes, 57 men and 38 women, competing in 15 different sports. AGONAsport presents to you our most anticipated athletes, the favorites, worthy outsiders, and possible surprises at Rio 2016!
Greece will compete at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with 95 athletes and will remain one of only four nations to participate in all 26 Olympics since 1896 (Australia, France, and Great Britain). Although the Greek team consists of less athletes in comparison to the London 2012 games (103), the 2016 Greek team has the most “quality” since Greece hosted in 2004. After two disappointing games in 2008 (2 silver, 2 bronze) and 2012 (2 bronze), Greece is expected to return back home with more medals, including GOLD!
The favorites to receive a medal are Katerina Stefanidis (Pole Vault), Kostas Fillipidis (Pole Vault), Spyros Gianniotis (10 km Swimming), the Men’s Water Polo team, Eleftherios Petrounias (Rings), Anna Korakaki (25 m pistol), and Paraskevi Papachristou (Triple Jump). Worthy outsiders are Ilias Iliadis (90 kg Judo), Angelopoulos/Christou/Tsilis/Tziallas (Rowing, Four), Kalliopi Araouzou (10 km Swimming), Vlasis Maras (Horizontal Bar), Vasiliki Vougioukas (Fencing), Andreas Vazaios (200 m medley), Byron Kokkalanis (RS:X), Nikol Kyriakopoulos (Pole Vault), and Asoumanaki/Nikolaidou (Sailing Double Sculls). Kostas Baniotis (High Jump) and Kagialis/Mantis (Sailing 470) have the abilities to pull of the surprise and earn a medal in their respective events.
The Associated Press predicts that Greece will receive 5 medals, 2 gold and 3 bronze. A gold for Eleftherios Petrounias (Men’s Rings) and Spyros Gianniotis (Men’s 10 km Open Water Swimming) and bronze medals for Katerina Stefanidis (Women’s Pole Vault), Anna Korakaki (Women’s 25 m pistol), and Paraskevi Papachristou (Women’s Triple Jump). The Greek Olympic Committee is excited for the 2016 games and announced that they expect the Greek team to return home with 8 medals!
There are many Greek athletes that have previously competed at the Olympic Games. Evangelia Psarras (Archery) and Spyros Gianniotis (Open Water Swimming) are FIVE time Olympians while Vlasis Maras (Horizontal bar), Sofia Bekatorou (mixed-Nacra 17), Ilias Iliadis (90 kg Judo), Angeliki Skarlatou (RS:X), Panagiotis Gionis (Table Tennis), and Christos Afroudakis (Water Polo) will make their 4th appearance at the Olympics.
During the parade of nations at the opening ceremonies, Greece will enter the Maracana Stadium first (as always) to honor its status as the birthplace of the Olympics. The Greek team will be led out by a female for the first time in their history with Sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou doing the honors of flag bearer.
Below you will find more details about Greece’s notable athletes and abilities at this year’s Olympic Games. From us at AGONAsport, we wish our athletes the best at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics Games! GO ELLAS!
TRACK & FIELD, GYMNASTICS
Without a doubt, Eleftherios Petrounias (Men’s Rings) is Greece’s most anticipated athlete at the 2016 Games. Petrounias has perfected his routine and is the clear favorite for the gold medal in the Men’s Rings. His main competition is the “hometown hero” Arthur Zanetti who won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. Petrounias is the current World and European Champion winning the gold medal at the 2015 World Championships, gold at the 2016 and 2015 European Championships, gold at the 2015 European Games, and gold at the 2016 World Cup.
The Olympic games have been a curse for the 4-time Olympian Vlasis Maras (Men's Horizontal Bar). As the favorite, the Greek athlete has failed to earn a medal in his previous appearances falling short in 2004, 2008, and 2012. With his career coming to an end, and mastering a good program, this will be Maras’ final opportunity for Olympic glory. This time, it could be to his advantage that he is not considered one of the favorites. Maras is 2-time World Champion, 6-time European Champion.
The current European Champion, Katerina Stefanidis (Women’s Pole Vault), is expected to be Greece’s best athlete in Track & Field. She is favored to earn a medal at the 2016 games and will fight for the gold against the Americans. Stefanidis recently was crowned the European Champion and finished 3rd at the 2016 World Championships in Portland.
Along with Stefanidis, Nikol Kyriakopoulou (Women’s Pole Vault) has the ability to earn a medal in Rio. The bronze medalist at the 2015 World Championships, suffered a small injury and will hope to surpass it before she competes in Rio.
In the Men’s Pole Vault, Kosta Fillipidis will hope to return to Greece with a medal. The Greek athlete is overdue for a “big jump” and if it comes in Rio, he will earn his first Olympic medal.
Voula Papachristou (Women’s Triple Jump) recently won the bronze medal at both the 2016 European and World Championships. She is considered one of the favorites to earn a medal at the Olympics.
Finally, Kostas Baniotis (Men’s High Jump) has the ability to record a jump over 2.3 meters in Rio, which can lead to medal. The Greek athlete finished 5th at the 2016 World Championships and could prove to be a surprise in Brazil.
5-time Olympian Spyros Gianniotis is a heavy favorite in the Men’s 10 km Open Water Swimming event. The veteran Greek athlete will look for his first ever Olympic medal in his final summer games after finishing 4th in London (5 seconds behind third). The 2-time World Champion and previous European Champion has the experience and talent to bring home the gold!
Like Gianniotis, Kalliopi Araouzou (Women’s 10 km Open Water Swimming) will be a contender for a medal in Rio. Araouzou won the silver medal at the 2015 World Championships and has stated that she is determined to return home as the Olympic Champion.
The current European Champion in the Men’s 200 m individual medley, Andreas Vazaios, could surprise the American’s and finish in the top 3 in Rio. The Greek athlete is in the best form of his career and has the confidence to make some noise in Rio.
The Men’s Water Polo team will be the only national team represented at the Olympic Games. The Galanolefki have high hopes for a top 3 finish after receiving the bronze medal in this year’s FINA World League and last year’s World Championships.
Greece will continue their rich history in sailing at the Rio 2016 Games. Vyron Kokkalanis (Men’s Sailing RS:X) is in the best form of his career and with his vast experience and talent can reach the podium in Brazil. Kagialis & Mantis (Men’s Sailing 470) have a great record internationally and if they get off to a great start, they can push on for a medal. Lets not forget our flag bearer Sofia Bekatorou who is making her 5th appearance at the Olympic Games.
Asoumanaki & Nikolaidou will be considered as one of the favorites in the Women's Double Sculls (Rowing) at yet another Olympic Games while the Men's Four team (Angelopoulos/Christou/Tsilis/Tziallas) can produce a medal-winning performance.
The flag bearer of the 2008 Olympics, Ilias Iliadis, will be a respected opponent in the Men’s 90 kg Judo. The 4-time Olympian and former Olympic Champion (2004 gold medal, 2012 bronze medal) will hope to end his Olympic career with his 3rd medal at the summer games. Injuries have troubled the Greek athlete over the last couple of years, but he will be considered a contender at Rio 2016.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Anna Korakkaki (Women’s 10 m pistol, 25 m pistol) is considered the future for Greece. Despite her young age, the 19-year old athlete has been named a heavy favorite in the 25 m pistol event in Brazil. Korrakaki’s only disadvantage is her age and inexperience with the athlete stating she is not nervous for the competition. The first-time Olympian mentioned that she has nothing to lose, but everything to gain in Rio.
Vassiliki Vougioukas (Women’s Fencing, Saber) came close to a medal in London, finishing in 5th place, and with some luck and good showings the experienced Greek athlete can earn a medal in Rio.
*For full Sport coverage of Rio 2016 head to www.agonasport.com