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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Global Greek Families: For Athanasios and Panayiota Tsakiris, Vancouver 2010 is a Family Affair!

 Panagiota and Athanasios Tsakiris
(Photo Source: Sport in Greece)

Greece is set to carve itself a little bit of history at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver which get underway tomorrow Friday when father-daughter duo Athanasios and Panagiota Tsakiris compete at the same Winter Olympics for the first time ever. Sport In Greece's Graham Wood caught up with the remarkable pair. 

Greece may not be troubling the medals table at this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver but two parts of their small, seven-strong team are guaranteed to make history when the Games get underway on February 12. 

For Athanasios and Panagiota Tsakiris, their presence at the 21st Winter Olympiad doesn't just represent a remarkable achievement in sporting terms, but it also signifies an extra special family moment, not to mention an unprecedented record.

This is because the father and daughter combination will become the first such pair to compete at the same Olympics together, a feat which ensures them a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

It is a story which has captured the imagination of the Greek media, and for once has propelled a sport other that football and basketball into the spotlight in the build up to winter sports' biggest showpiece. 

And rightly so. 

Vancouver 2010 will be the fifth Winter Olympics for record man Athanasios, who at 45 has competed over 600 times in international competitions as a member of the Greek ski team.

Back after an eight-year break, the biathlon and cross-country specialist now heads to Canada with his 19-year-old daughter Panagiota, who will be competing in the Biathlon. 

"It's my second Winter Olympics but this time I'm with my dad and I'm very excited," Panagiota told sportingreece.com

"Even though it doesn't seem strange or unique to me [to be competing next to her father], when I do think about the fact that it's the Olympics it is very special." 

Indeed, being a daughter and fellow athlete to her father is nothing new to the ambitious young Physical Education student from Drama, as they are together 24/7. 

"To have my father competing next to me has become kind of a routine to be honest because over the past few years we are together all day, every day, living and training together as well as competing." 

"He has more experience than any Greek winter sports athlete and helps me so much as a coach. For me this also plays an important role psychologically because he knows me so well. 

"So really I have the ideal co-athlete and coach in one - and when you have chosen such a high target to go for the Olympic dream, you can't have a relaxed coach next to you."

For his part, Athanasios, who admits to having practiced on roller-skates in supermarket car parks, will carry the Greek flag at the opening ceremony, before competing in both biathlon and cross-country events. He admitted the lure of competing with his daughter was a key factor in him making a comeback.

"The fact I came back was mainly because I love the sport so much and I also wanted the chance to compete with my daughter," he said. (Read full article at SportInGreece )
 
Panagiota and Athanasios, on behalf of everyone in our Global Greek World, we wish you every success! 

Καλή Επιτυχία!!!

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