Outstanding Greek athletes, including Olympic winners, participated in a video conference with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday, who thanked them for their contributions in encouraging people to exercise at home while observing the coronavirus lockdown measures.
During the meeting, the valuable contribution of the athletes to the success of the "Stay Home" message and the use of the crisis to increase the dissemination of exercise, good sportsmanship and volunteering in Greek society were discussed.
The athletes pointed out that the state reacted in a timely and effective manner, which is recognised abroad. They spoke about the challenges of 'home' training and said they were determined to continue to support efforts to raise awareness and turn the crisis into a healthy lifestyle, as expressed by the 'Live Sportily' (Zise Athlitika) program.
The athletes who have participated in video clips through the 'Live sportily' initiative include: Pyrros Dimas, Eleftherios Petrounias, Katerina Stefanidi, Anna Korakaki, Nikos Kaklamanakis, Evi Moraitidou, Voula Kozoboli, Panagiotis Yiannakis, Dimitris Papanikolaou, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Maria Sakkaris, Grigorios Polychronidis (Paralympics), Andreas Glyniadakis and Takis Fyssas.
"We do have the opportunity to change habits and come out of this trial stronger," Mitsotakis told them. He added that although the lockdown measures were difficult on many people, it lends an opportunity to learn to use time productively, especially with the help of exercises shown in the clips. People "will understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle and might even discover exercise again, even if at home, and even with light jogging, things that are allowed under the circumstances."
During the video conference, the athletes added to the conversation. Among them:
- Pyrros Dimas, President of the Hellenic Weightlifting Federation, four-time Olympic Weightlifting Olympian: "The 2004 volunteer movement, which stopped at some point, it's time to bring it back. We are all volunteers, we want to help, especially in these critical and difficult times. We do what we can, we are here, we are ambassadors of sports, we can help."
- Eleftherios Petrounias, Greece's 'Lord of the Rings': "I think we are all united, without spending anything we have managed to push the world towards sports and this is a very good opportunity."
- Stefanos Tsitsipas, tennis player, number six in the world rankings: "It's an opportunity to spend some more time with my family and do things I didn't have time to do before. Specifically, at the moment on a daily basis I'm trying to learn some French, it's something I've always wanted but I didn't have time devote into it and there’s an opportunity now."
- Maria Sakkari, tennis player, number 20 in the world rankings: "First of all, I would like to thank you and congratulate you for what you have done, you and the government. We all understand that it is not easy, it is something very difficult, we are all grateful - I think I am speaking on behalf of everyone - it is something admirable that you have achieved."
- Katerina Stefanidi, World and Olympic pole vault champion: "I think that from now on things start to get a little difficult and the more we "sit", the more it will take us to return to the normality of things for us (…) We are in a difficult time, but I think everyone is doing what they can in the house."
- Anna Korakaki, World champion shooter: "First of all, I want to thank you for all the measures taken. I live in a very small town, I live in a provincial town and I'm very happy because I see that the people here at least are disciplined. I'm also happy because a lot of people who have stayed home and don't have the motivation to go out, to exercise, even to walk on a daily basis now do."
- Grigorios Polychronidis, President of the Association of Greek Paralympians: "The Minister's initiative for 'Live Sportily' is something that brought results - at least in personal terms - much higher than expected. We have seen the whole athletic family unite and, like a fist, show its strength, help psychologically above all, because the Greek people need a lot of psychological help at the moment. I think that all the athletes together have managed to boost the morale of the Greeks and to really encourage them to be strong, optimistic and to expect the best tomorrow."
Mitsotakis noted that if the time is right (from May) for gradual relaxations on restrictions, increased opportunities for exercise will be amongst his priorities.
Recently, the 21-year-old tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas also spoke about the feelings he felt the first time he trained with Roger Federer.
In 2017, Tsitsipas for the first time qualified for the Wimbledon tournament and had the opportunity to meet his idol, Roger Federer, up close.
— Stefanos Tsitsipas (@StefTsitsipas) July 6, 2017
The Greek tennis player recalled that the Swiss professional tennis player invited him for a joint training session. A training session that he will remember for the rest of his life. "I thought I was dreaming, honestly. But the more times you play with him, the more normal he looks and at the same time he is not normal, because he is Federer. He's not just another player, "said Tsitsipas, in his latest YouTube video.
"I learned to express myself more. I spent a lot of time with him in the Laver Cup in September and I learnt a lot from him. Even the way you support yourself, the way you talk, the way you think, you can pass that on to someone else. It inspired me a lot."
*Check out the latest vlog uploaded by Stefanos Tsitsipas: