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Greek judo team displays high promise February 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Martial Arts.
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Ilias Iliadis wins silver at Super World Cup, a major event ahead of Beijing Olympics

The Greek National Judo Team returned with a silver medal from the weekend’s Super World Cup in Paris, a major event on the sport’s international calendar, as part of its lead-up to next year’s Beijing Olympics.

Ilias Iliadis, the reigning Olympic and European Champion, won the silver in the 90-kilogram category while, overall, the 10-member squad indicated that Greece can make greater impact next year in China at the Beijing Olympics.

Considering his success in recent years, Iliadis’s post-competition remarks of discontent over his silver medal at the Super World Cup did not come as a surprise. The 23-year-old athlete, a nationalized Greek from the former Soviet Union, lost his final bout against Russia’s Kasambi Taov, a bronze medalist at the Athens 2004 Olympics. Iliadis had won the gold at this event in 2005.

«He could have won against Taov, which leaves us feeling bitter. He performed well throughout the competition, except for the final, where one mistake cost him the gold medal,» commented Nikos Iliadis, the National Team’s head coach.

Making his debut in the 100-kilogram-plus category, Vassilis Iliadis ended ninth after withdrawing because of a leg injury he incurred during a match with Russia’s Alexander Mihailin.

«His presence was very good. He showed signs of strength after a lengthy period of time and could have captured a better place if it hadn’t been for the leg injury. Let’s hope it’s not serious,« said Iliadis, the team’s coach.

The local federation’s chief, Vangelis Soufleris, expressed overall content with the outcome, while hinting that plenty of work lay ahead in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics. «Generally speaking, I’m satisfied,» said Soufleris. «But it’s still too early to reach any conclusions,» he added.

Qualifying competition awaits the Greek team in its lead-up to the 2008 Olympics. Judo’s popularity in Greece has risen sharply in recent years as a result of its emergence on the international scene. A recent study conducted on behalf of the sport’s national federation showed that judo activity in Greece rose by 7,000 percent between 2001 and today.

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