Thursday, August 26, 2004

Athletics: Greeks make a point. At length.


Robin watches Chris jump
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

So we're just back from the athletics, which were fun but not particularly eventful (I quite like sports with a plot that unfolds over the course of a match - you don't really get that with a 400m sprint, somehow). Kelly Holmes had made the 1500m final and GB long jumper Chris Tomlinson had come a very respectful 5th overall (that's him in the picture). And then came the 200m.

As you probably know Kenteris - the Greek 200m winner in Sydney - is missing from these games after missing a drug test, having a curious motorbike accident and then pulling out of the games. As the runners lined-up for the 200m, the Greeks started chanting his name. Fair enough. But they kept chanting it. And booing the US runners (not quite sure why it's their fault Kenteris kept missing drug tests).

Because the runners need silence to hear the gun, the race was delayed for a good five minutes despite repeated requests for quiet. They just kept whistling, booing and chanting Kenteris's name.

Eventually a well-spoken English bloke near me stood up and started shouting at our section, who were well into the booing and chanting. 'You should be ashamed!' he hollered. 'This is not clever. This is a pity. You should be ashamed!'

Around this point they shut up enough for the race to be run - but many booed and whistled throughout the race and, particularly, at the end when the 3 US runners took all the medals.

'The Greeks love a fairytale,' said the Greek man next to me. 'They can't believe Kenteris took drugs, so they have to make up theories why he's not here and blame other people.' He looked quite embarassed at the booing (and didn't join in at all).

I've just checked the BBC site and the headline is 'Crowd mars sprint showdown'. After all the good work Greece has done for itself during these Games, it'd be a real shame if things like this managed to undo it all. Fair enough chant his name for a bit, but to disrupt the race like that was just rude and petulent. And, like the man said, not clever.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think, the Guardian explains it better:
http://sport.guardian.co.uk/olympics2004/athletics/story/0,14782,1292026,00.html

I am sure that Kenteris is guilty. Especially after the new stories about 'AEAS' club, there is nothing to like about him... but we must wait her defence.
Anyway, I, also, was very annoyed when I saw M. Jones and M. Greene in the Stadium...

I am wonder who was rude. The people or M. Greene?

'The Greeks love a fairytale'?
No way! The fanatics loves fairytales.
After all, Kenteris is already in a very bad position, and expected to be worsen after the end of the games.

Anonymous said...

I sat there thinking "Oh no, Greece, don't do this, its so rude" and I wonder what will happen at the medal ceremony. I thought better of "the Greeks" but we should remember it was only certain of them who were in the stadium. BUT, the home of civilisation, the home of the Olympic spirit? That noise represented neither.

Sarah/Mum, Derby

Anonymous said...

Hey there!
Being Greek (and certain of Kenteri's quilt) I was SO ashamed while the booing kept going.
The thing is that around here the media are paying too much attention at this case.
Ok, they were doped, they 're not the first or the last, lets get it over and done with...
Hope this kind of attitude hasn't ruined it all for Robin ;-)

Iliana

Chokos said...

I witnessed the booing and jeering on TV and as a Greek I can assure you I was squirming with embarrassment.

Such behaviour is appalling, unedifying, undignified, petulant and downright rude. Furthermore, it was totally unjustifiable, as the athletes on the track were not in any way responsible for Kenteris's absence. Only Kenteris himself was.

This has left a sour taste to a Games that many people had agreed were going exceptionally well. I hope the Games recover in the limited time they have left.

Oh, and I've heard it said that the booing came from fans who bought tickets as soon as they were released specifically to see Kenteris, hence their aggrievement. So it would be interesting to hear - if you can find out - what the wider Greek public and other visitors made of the debacle...

Chokos said...

I witnessed the booing and jeering on TV and as a Greek I can assure you I was squirming with embarrassment.

Such behaviour is appalling, unedifying, undignified, petulant and downright rude. Furthermore, it was totally unjustifiable, as the athletes on the track were not in any way responsible for Kenteris's absence. Only Kenteris himself was.

This has left a sour taste to a Games that many people had agreed were going exceptionally well. I hope the Games recover in the limited time they have left.

Oh, and I've heard it said that the booing came from fans who bought tickets as soon as they were released specifically to see Kenteris, hence their aggrievement. So it would be interesting to hear - if you can find out - what the wider Greek public and other visitors made of the debacle...

Anonymous said...

I want to add my voice to those Greeks who already expressed their diapproval over last night's events. It was totally disrespectful and inappropriate and those athletes deserve an apology.
And I don't think that Greeks love fairy tales so much as conspiracy theories: instead of facing reality it's always easier to believe some entirely ridiculous story and blame someone else. I just hope the people who were booing yesterday were not representative of public opinion in general. I was surprised because from what I've read in greek newspapers Kenteris is disgraced in Greece. I suppose those booing were his hardcore fans who rushed to buy tickets long ago and had the propensity to believe his preposterous excuses.
Still it was a very sad and unfair thing to do. I am very angry.
Dennis, UK

Chokos said...

Sorry about the double posting, I've been having problems trying to post all morning...

Dennis is right about Greeks playing the blame game. We do it the whole time. It's one of our worst characteristics.

Anonymous said...

OK,this was really really a bad reaction from the Greek spectators,but you have missed a point.I was at the stadium
the night of the 100m mens final.Five athletes under 9.9 secs??Cum on guys! At leat 3 out of 8 where "high".Which one I don't know.The majority of Greek people know that Kenteris
is quilty,but they are also sure that the truth was not spoken.How many of you have "neglected" that at the same evening M.Jones was participating?Athletes who use drugs must be banned from games.Not punished.Banned for lifetime.
But this must apply to ALL.And I mean ALL.

noelle said...

Greece deserves some kind of split personality award for being such fabulous hosts on the one hand and such poor sports on the other. Not only what happened last night, but also at the men's gymnastics indivual apparatus finals on Monday. It was too much.

However I agree with the Greeks who have posted here and I'm sure the behavior is not truly representative of all Greeks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the eloquent grandstand-view of an event that has been covered so many different ways in the press that it's hard to make heads or tails of it from far away. Apparently, there are some Greek papers that are posting editorials claiming an American conspiracy was to blame for Kenteris' problems. A number of media outlets in the States are focusing on the "anti-USA/they're jealous of us" angle. While I understand the frustration of fans in a country with a depressed economy who paid big euros for tickets to an event they thought would be a showcase for national pride, I was hoping against hope that Fani Halkia's vistory in the 400mH would at least satiate them somewhat. Oh well.

(Speaking of T&F, I hope this Olympic experience will lead my heroine Paula to finally wise up and fix her posture. Just think how good she could be if she could run on hills and in hot weather!)

- Kyle from Philly

Anonymous said...

Sarah & Chokos:
believe me they did... and probably this sport (and not only) deserve this. True, the majority was fans of Kenteris.

Dennis:
"conspiracy"? is so poor the English language? of course not! Don't be so cruel, especially with your people.

gymnastics case:
Perhaps, bribery... nothing is clear.
In any case, someone must exmplain what happened.
btw, 'they are evil' or 'they are jealous', was never accepted by Greeks and I am proud about this.

marathon case:
Why isn't started at early in the morning? why the athletes (for health reasons too) had less priority? corruption? Rumors said, NBC's interests. Who cared about Paula and others? What is important?

'blame someone else':
a. I think, Tsekos, Kenteris and Thanou was blamed from the first time.
b. Is there any logical human, that finds logical that what happend? Still no one blamed.

Tradition on dope:
USA, USSR and East Germany, had a *great* tradition on dopping. They (from the ex-east-block, the "new" countries) are 'DE FACTO' suspicious, and I think that they must be very carefull, if they want to improve their image.

but... everything except that we saw.
I think 47 athletes from USA denied, plus Jones and Greene (he will at the final of 4x100!) was in the games!!! Need to mention, supposed "clean" athletes of the past?

Now, tell me, what do you think when you see all the 3 mendals goes to a country
with the worst image on dopping case, plus
that country had less than 6% of the world population. Maybe those 3, was clean? sure... maybe... but probably not.

All those "Heidi Krieger" (well known as "Andreas" now) they deserve, at least, 'booing'. Shame only for Kenteris supporters.

Nicholas

Anonymous said...

Ooopss... sorry, the (b) at 'blame someone else', was for Sampanis..
Nicholas

Dawn said...

Do you know wy the country with the top 3 won the medal? Because running is a national pastime here. It is one of the few sports without the use of special equipment that people can get a scholarship to school, taking them out of poverty . Plus, our athletes, especially the ones on the podium, train in extreme weather. Two of them are from TX, where the humidity is 98% and the heat is 110during the summer (trust me, I live it and know it). I know doping happens, but in this case I doubt it very much.

Anonymous said...

One thing is sure:
Kenteris is much as quilty as M.Green is.
Do you get the drift?