Hellenic athletes from all over Australia and New Zealand converged upon Victoria’s capital, Melbourne, in celebration of Hellenism and the spirit of competition for the 2009 PanHellenic Games over the weekend.
South Australian teenager Tiffany Papaemanouil, produced the strongest swimming performance and arguably the best overall performance of any athlete in the games. She won an incredible nine gold medals, winning each of the races in which she competed.
Sports as diverse as swimming, judo and various track and field disciplines gave individual athletes and teams the opportunity to compete at high standards while maintaining a harmonious spirit of the games in the traditions of the eternal Olympic Games.
Panos Piftakis, Victorian State Sports Manager and Track & Field co-ordinator said he was pleased with the event and impressed by the overall standard.
Mr. Piftakis singled out the men’s 100 metres in which Victorian Christopher Diegan ran a fantastic time of 10.86 seconds to win the men’s gold medal.
A young South Australian woman, Demi Kakavas took out the women’s 100m with a time of 14.29 seconds.
It was a family affair for the Victorian Hatzipantellis siblings.
In the women’s triple jump Cassandra Hatzipantellis took out first place with a leap of 9.64m. She backed up that performance with a gold medal in the high jump, as she leapt 1.30m to take victory. Her brother Aaron won the men’s triple jump and 200m hurdles.
The Olympic Park field events offered numerous highlights, including Western Australian long jumper Vayos Koudoumakis who took out first place in the event with a leap of 6.41 meters.
Koudoumakis is the Western Australian state record holder and is pushing for Australian Commonwealth Games selection in 2010.
In the Javelin, Bart Atherinos claimed the gold medal with an outstanding throw of 47.32 meters.
The anticipated football tournament saw the highly fancied Victorian men’s side, coached by former South Melbourne Hellas great and current Oakleigh Cannons boss John Anastasiadis, defeat South Australia 3-1 in the final at South’s Bob Jane Stadium.
Victoria was particularly impressive, fielding some Victorian Premier League players. Evan Kounavelis was perhaps the stand-out player for South Australia in the tournament, and plays in the SA Premier League.
The women’s football gold medal was taken out by NSW who won 2-0 against Victoria in a match played in difficult conditions.
NSW State Sports manager George Carrayiannis paid tribute to the level of organisation, high venue standards and incredible performances in the swimming and water polo programs.
South Australian teenager Tiffany Papaemanouil, produced the strongest swimming performance and arguably the best overall performance of any athlete in the games.
She won an incredible nine gold medals, winning each of the races in which she competed.
Mr. Carrayiannis was quick to praise Tiffany, suggesting that she has the potential to compete on the national stage and perhaps may compete for Australia one day in the Olympics.
In water polo, the NSW men’s water polo side had a crushing win over Victoria in the final, winning 11 -2 with Michael Carrayiannis the stand-out athlete in the high standard gold medal match. Victoria exacted some revenge in the women’s final defeating New South Wales 7-2 in the tournament’s finale.
Mr. Carrayiannis described the match as, “an extremely good game, with an incredible standard.
The Melbourne girls were very professional, and deserved the win,” he said.
“The girls played at a state, if not national level, and the men’s contest was a high state level. Many of the athletes compete at the top state levels in their respective competitions,” Mr. Carrayiannis added.
In men’s basketball Victoria narrowly defeated Queensland in the final, with Northern Territory taking out third place in the tournament.
NT Sports Manager Michael Siriotis was particularly pleased with the Northern Territory performance.
He said, “The third place was well deserved, and our guys should celebrate the result.”
Anthony Zorbas, Western Australian State Sports manager, told Neos Kosmos English Edition that the highlight of the event was bonds created by the athletes who had travelled from the other side of Australia. “We essentially fielded a collection of teams comprising of individuals that had never met each other.
“These guys and girls developed a wonderful sense of camaraderie. New friendships were made and close bonds were forged.
Already, the athletes are talking about how they can’t wait to catch up at home.
This is without doubt the highlight for me,” Mr. Zorbas said.
Queensland manager John Bellas was very excited to bring to Melbourne a team of approximately 60 athletes, an impressive number given the relatively small size of the Greek population in Queensland.
Mr Bellas said, “Overall, we did fairly well given the confined programming of the events. The kids had a great time, giving spirited performances in sports they love with the added interest of the Games’ Hellenic context.”
Mr Bellas paid tribute to the Queensland men’s and women’s silver medal winning basketball teams, who were unlucky not to go a step further. The men, in particular were unlucky to face a well-rested Victoria ahead of the final.
A name for the future is young Michael Criticos who at the tender age of just under 15, collected three gold medals for Queensland winning the shot-put, discus and javelin in his age group.
George Demourtzidis of South Australia praised the athletes who travelled from across the border for the games. Mr. Demourtzidis told NKEE, “Our 53 athletes competed in the perfect spirit.
They did a fantastic job for their state and certainly raised a few eyebrows with their respective results.”
He added, “Everyone took their performances very seriously and wanted put forth the best possible performance. But most importantly the Games provided the platform for the individuals to create bonds between themselves and others and branch out to meet new faces from the other states.”
Mr Demourtzidis highlighted the aforementioned Tiffany Papaemanouil, who he says has a huge future ahead of her and is a part of the South Australian Sports Institute, where she has a scholarship.
Another stand-out performer for South Australia was in the women’s 3000 metre race, where Sofia Kaidonis won the gold medal.
Finally, Victorian co-ordinator Mr. Piftakis thanked all of the athletes for their spirit and said, “a special thank you must go out to our great sponsors and of course, the volunteers who put up with Victoria’s temperamental climate.
I’d also like to congratulate all the interstate and international visitors for their dedication and efforts in travelling so far for the games.”