Wednesday, August 29, 2012


'Dear Friend,

I need to scream and shout and be proud for all the achievements of the Olympic Games and the tremendous joy and absolute bliss that we have experienced these past few weeks.

I need to say thank you to someone for what has been achieved.

I could send a congratulatory message to Mrs Angelopoulou but I think that she has praised herself enough. To Mr Simitis and the new government, the Mayor of Athens etc but this would be like shouting in the wilderness. They only listen to their own rhetoric and have praise only for what they consider to be their own single handed achievements, even though they will make it appear to be praising the volunteers and others.

In a little while they will credit themselves with the whole project and that is what will remain in the minds of the man in the street at the next election, local or national.

So finally I thought that I could say thank you to someone who was directly involved and who put so much effort and hard work to make this whole thing work.

So here I am, not having heard from me for such a long time I will make your day, I hope!
Thank you for all your hard work and commitment besides all the negative talk and criticism that you have had to bear, brush off and fight all these years. Thank you for making this city and its wonderful people find themselves and their spirit once again.

After 30 years back in Greece thank you for making me proud to be a Greek.

Polla Filia

As the curtain goes up on the London 2012 Paralympic Games today, I can't help remembering that it is exactly eight years since 29 August 2004, when Athens' magical Olympics came to a close...

The day after the Closing Ceremony the world's press did a huge about-face, the apologies, and the praise, came rolling in, from every side...literally and figuratively! After the brickbats, the praise was so much sweeter!

Involved as I was with the organisation of the Games, I thought this would be a great moment to share with you all one of the many special letters I received  from people who wrote to express their admiration and thanks....

It came from a fellow Global Greek, someone who knew that I had chosen to work for these Olympics, not for the money, which was actually less than I could have got in my field, but because I believed in Greece and wanted to give something back to the land of my birth... a decision I will never regret!

After all, There's NO Place like Home!

Spiros' letter touched me tremendously ... it is one that I cherish to this day. Thank you, dear friend...

On 29 August 2004, in a bursting-at-the-seams Olympic Stadium, sixteen days of sport, friendship and celebration would culminate in a wonderful, fun-filled, essentially Greek party.

A party which would feature most of Greece's top ranked performers, a party  full of music and culture, a party for everyone - the athletes, the people of Greece and the world.

Under a brilliant full August Moon, we would hear that Greece had won the bet - 'KERDISATE', that Greece's Olympics were 'Unforgettable, Dream Olympics' and we rejoiced, because we knew that after all the brickbats and the criticism that we had endured in the previous years, Athens had pulled it off!

Greece was vindicated - Big Time!

Our Olympics proved to the world ' the great things Greeks can do' as ATHOC President Gianna Angelopoulos said that night!

The homecoming of the Olympic Games to the land of their Birth had given OUR Olympics that extra special dimension of meaning and authenticity... something no one else would ever be able to do!

For all those in Athens' Olympic Stadium that night, along with the millions around the world, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience...

Sit back and watch part of it in the video below... it was the biggest Greek party in history! OPA!

1 comment:

  1. I must express my disappointment with the absurd claim that de Coubertin alone resuscitated the modern Olympics.

    This belittles and denies the pioneering thoughts of Alexander Soutsos, the personal and financial support of Epirotes Evangelos Zappas and George Averoff and the sporting leadership of the very first IOC President, Dimitrios Vikelas. Even IOC archives support what they achieved, but unless we Hellenes stand up, the truth will remain in those archives.

    Alexandros Soutsos was a famous Hellenic poet. In 1833, the newspaper Helios published his poem, where he referred to the necessity for reviving the Olympic Games. The newspaper was published in Nafplio, the first capital of the new born Hellenic state, in the Peloponnese.

    Influenced by Soutsos’ ideas the great philanthropist Evangelos Zappas proposed the revival of the Olympic Games. Zappas was born in 1800 in a village at Epirus. Zappas decided to propagate the idea and to personally finance the effort.

    Zappas died in 1865, leaving his immense fortune for the benefit of the modern Olympics with the purpose to be held every four years "in the manners of our ancestors". De

    Demetrios Vikelas was born in 1835 in Syros, and died in 1908 in Athens. He was a merchant in London, but since literature was his real love, he soon became a well-known writer.

    In 1894, he took over the initiative of establishing the modern Olympic Games. After becoming a member of the Panhellenic Gymnastic Society in Athens, he represented the Society in the International Athletic Congress of 1894 held in Paris. There, he made the first speech suggesting that Athens should be the site of the First International Olympic Games to be held in 1896.

    "I claimed Hellas’ rights with regard to the re-establishment of a Hellenic institution. Indeed, as Victor Hugo put it, the whole civilized world has a common grandmother, but we [the Hellenes] have her as our mother. So we are in a way the uncles of the rest of the peoples. Here is our only advantage, if it is an advantage. Here is the source of my request that the restored Olympic Games be inaugurated on our Hellenic soil".

    After the acceptance of the proposition, Athens became the site of the first institutionalised Olympic Games and Vikelas became the first president of the new-born International Olympic Committee.

    George Averoff, another Hellenic benefactor from Epirus as was Averoff, was a resident of Alexandria. He personally financed the erection of the Athens Polytechnic School, the Military Academy and the High School and the Girls Institution at Alexandria.

    When the Committee for the renovation of the Panathenian Stadium asked him to contribute, Averoff stated that he would undertake the renovation of the ancient Panathenian Stadium, at his own expense.

    Subsequently, George Averoff was greeted by all Hellenism as the principal establisher of the Olympic Games. In memory of his patriotism, his statue was erected in front of the Stadium on the eve of the beginning of the Games.

    So given all of the foregoing, available on the internet and confirmed via IOC Archives, how is it that the Hellenic nation has ever allowed Pierre de Coubertin to claim all of the credit for founding the modern Olympics. Even the Athens 2004 website erroneously gave him credit without any mention of Soutsos, Zappas, Vikelas and Averoff.

    Yet without these men there would have been no idea for reviving the Games, no motivation and impetus and certainly no money.

    It is time that the world recognised what the Hellenes did, over a century ago but which they too have now forgotten.

    Ange T Kenos (Olympic certified weightlifting coach)


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