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Cyprus gives its heart to Marcos September 3, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Unbelievable, perhaps, but true: Marcos Baghdatis, the flamboyant Cypriot tennis sensation, hails from a modest little village called Paramytha whose name translates as “fairy tale.”

At the beginning of the year, few outside his native Cyprus had heard of him. He was ranked 55th in the world. Today, the 21-year-old is No. 8 and poised to topple into belated retirement the similarly charismatic and immensely popular player he most admired as a child: Andre Agassi (last Thursday night).

Never before has Cyprus, with a population of fewer than 1 million people, produced such a sporting hero whose fighting spirit and courage have led an enthralled local media to liken him to Hercules and Achilles. Commentators have labeled him “the greatest Cypriot sportsman of all time” and dubbed him the “Cypriot pirate” because of his rugged appearance. His shaggy locks are tamed by a bandanna and he does not shave during tournaments.

Greek Cypriots had, until this year, mostly celebrated sporting success indirectly through their cousins in Greece, as when the unfancied Greek team triumphed at the 2004 European soccer championships.

“It shows our own athletes can have glory,” beams Nicos Petrou, a local fan.

Baghdatis started making global headlines in January when he beat the likes of Andy Roddick, then the world No. 2, and David Nalbandian, then No. 4, to reach the final of the Australian Open where, after taking the first set, he lost to Roger Federer.

“Marcos honors us,” proclaimed a huge banner in Nicosia’s main square on the eve of that final. In turn, the young star delighted television viewers at home by declaring: “I love my country and my family, and I thank Cyprus for all its support.” He promised: “I will play with passion and spirit. I’ve got a big Cypriot heart.”

His success is all the more remarkable as soccer-mad Cyprus has little tradition in tennis, with a mere few thousand registered players and 54 courts. Tennis has been associated with the well-off, but Baghdatis comes from a working-class background in Paramytha, a picturesque hillside village of just a few hundred people, just north of Limassol. It is so small that street signs are simply hammered onto carob trees.

Baghdatis’s mother, Androulla, and father, Christos, run a clothing import business from their unassuming, one-story house, which is accessible only by a winding track and is said to be decorated with Greek Orthodox Christian icons. It is the home where the tennis star, whom friends describe as “very religious,” stays when he returns to Cyprus.

Baghdatis first swung a tennis racket when he was 5, and left for a French tennis academy to develop his game when he was 14 under an Olympic Solidarity scholarship. The parting was highly unusual in the tightly-knit communities of Cyprus. His father told the boy he could return after a week if he wanted.

“He’s a very sensitive boy, and he spent the first week crying, wanting to come back,” says Simon Aynedjian, a friend. “He missed the family and he still does when he’s away, but these are the sacrifices brave people make.”

Baghdatis has a younger sister, Zena, who is still in primary school, and two older tennis-mad brothers, Marinos and Petros, who played tennis for their universities after winning scholarships to study in the US. They inspired Baghdatis – who in turn is inspiring thousands of young Cypriots to take up the sport.

EDITOR’S NOTE > Article by Michael Theodoulou reporting from Nicosia, Cyprus correspondent of the ChristianScienceMonitor.Copyright © 2006 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.

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Cyprus participates at Med Travel Fair September 3, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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The upcoming Mediterranean Travel Fair 2006 (MTF) is set for a great start. The event, which is the only dedicated travel exhibition for the eastern Mediterranean, will open in Cairo as scheduled on 5–7 September the Financial Mirror reports.

The Cyprus Tourism Organization is coordinating its presence at MTF with its marketing office in Dubai to promote Cyprus as a tourist destination for tourists from Asian markets such as India and China, and combined packages featuring Cyprus, Greece and Egypt.

A CTO spokesman said they recognized the importance of MTF in its marketing plans to reach a much broader range of tourists.

Despite regional tensions in the Middle East, trade pre-registration has exceeded expectations and are currently over 100% up on the same figure for the corresponding period last year.

A total of 27 countries are represented in this year’s exhibition, including 5 new countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Kosovo and Uganda.

Greece will be this years’ Feature Country and will be hosting a Gala Dinner on the opening evening of the exhibition at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza hotel. They will also be exhibiting on stand of over 160sq.m. showcasing all that this unique destination has to offer.

The Hosted Buyer programme was new to the show last year and this year will double in size attracting key meetings and incentives buyers from around the world. The show will also see the Meridian Club lounge moving onto the show floor to be situated next to the hosted appointment session area, making it more convenient and accessible to our VIP buyers.

Spain – Greece 70-47 September 3, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Basketball.
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Congratulations to Spain!

And congratulations and thank you to our National Team for winning the silver and the 2nd place!

Spain shrugged off the loss of injured star Pau Gasol to thrash Greece 70-47 and claim the World Basketball Championship title for the first time.

It was Spain’s first medal in global competition since the 1984 Olympics, and they went through the tournament undefeated, winning all nine matches.

Greece could not reproduce the form which shocked the USA in the semis.

Read more at > Spain thump Greece to claim crown