A shocking revelation has been made by world record holding Greek marathon runner Maria Polyzou in her autobiography entitled "Do Not Give Up" which has just been released.
The strong woman, who has also struggled with cancer, has made public another dark side of her life in her childhood by confessing that she was raped by her own father.
Maria Polyzou spoke to MEGA.tv about her nightmarish childhood.
"We are talking about 1982, 1983… I do not think a child's voice was heard then," she said revealing for the first time the horror she experienced as a child that was abused by her own father and who was afraid to speak out at the time.
"My father was fierce in appearance and manners.… He had a black beard that made him even scarier. He drank and, when he got drunk, he became violent. He was hitting us and we were all shaking. He raped me from the age of 11-12," she writes in her book.
"To convince every child, every girl, who went through what I went through, to pick up a phone and talk," added Maria Polyzou, explaining why she has made the public admission in her new book.
Do Not Give Up
Maria Polyzou never gave up. Her lifeline was running.
"I think I have been running away ever since," she wrote.
Maria never stopped dreaming and by running she made her dreams come true.
"No matter how hard I went through my life, I was able to win back my dreams," she said.
Maria's message about these such crimes is also to the government.
"Whoever has abused, I believe that life should be for life," she says.
Maria Polyzou was born in Patras in 1968. She became involved in sports, specifically in long distance races, from the time she was in school.
Maria was a member of the Greek national marathon team from 1986 to 2004. She won the gold medal in the national marathon championship in 1988 and in 1994. She won nine gold medals in the national athletics championship in long distance races [1988/1993/1996/1997/2000] and two gold medals in the Panhellenic student championships [1989/1990].
Maria Polyzou still holds the Panhellenic Marathon Record after 20 years with the time of 2:33:40 that she achieved in Budapest in 1998. She also holds the national record for the classical marathon with 2:39:10 and the national record for the half marathon with 1:13:31. She has broken the national record in the marathon and the half marathon 14 times in total.
Maria made history at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 as the first Greek marathon runner to take part in the Olympic Games. She is the first female Greek long distance race athlete to win a gold medal in the Balkan games, achieving a Balkan record at the same time. She holds the highest ranking for a Greek female long distance race athlete in the world marathon championship.
In 2010 she was the first woman since antiquity to revive the Pheidippidean Athlos, that is, she ran a distance of 524 km from the Acropolis to Sparta and back, following the route of the ancient runner Pheidippes.
The winner has also come out in front in a battle with breast cancer that she faced in 2019.
"I only faced to cancer to win. You only go in to battle cancer to finish winning," she said about how she approached her fight with cancer.
"Nothing is impossible" is the motto of the racing team Maria coaches and she proves that this is exactly the case with her life story.
"No matter how many marathons and difficulties I went through, my biggest victory is to be able to say "Yes, I'm happy,"" she concluded.
Maria Polyzou is the leading Greek marathon runner of all time, the woman who has made Greece proud countless times.
Behind her seemingly dreamy successes was a nightmare – her father had sexually abused her.
"It simply came to my notice then. Not only to run the 42,195 meters, not only to win the fight against breast cancer I suffered through, but most of all to be able to emerge victorious from the biggest battle I faced. The abuse," said Maria.
Maria Polyzou's autobiography entitled 'Don't Give Up!' will be released on October 11th by Key Books.
Photos from @maria.polyzou Instagram page.