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Greek Sailor Tsoulfa Qualifies for Olympics 17 Years After Gold Medal

Tsoulfa Olympics
Tsoulfa and Bekatorou at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Credit: AMNA

Greek sailing champion Emilia Tsoulfa has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics seventeen years after winning gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Tsoulfa, now a 47-year-old mother of three children, took the Olympic gold medal with her sailing partner Sofia Betakorou in 2004 in the 470 sailing class, the same class she has now qualified for 17 years later.

Tsoulfa qualified for Olympics after placing 18th at World Championships

After finishing 18th at the World 470 Championships in Portugal in early March, Tsoulfa and her partner Ariadne Spanaki, of the Piraeus Nautical Club, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Despite their success at the Championship, the competition was not easy for Spanaki and Tsoulfa, as stated by their coach Andreas Papadopoulos to Greek newspaper Kathimerini:

“It was a difficult competition. For us, it was our first international event and we faced the best crews, which have been training together for several years. This made us very anxious.”

This was the first time Tsoulfa sailed competitively in 16 years, and although the team is not favored to win big at the upcoming Olympic Games, it is quite the honor to qualify, as Tsoulfa and Spanaki had only trained for one year before the Championships.

Another Greek team, Maria Bozi and Rafailina Klonaridou, of the Nautical Club of Thessaloniki, participated in the World Championships in Portugal and placed 20th.

Bekatorou’s allegations of sexual assault

Sofia Bekatorou, Tsoulfa’s sailing partner at the 2004 Athens Olympics, shook the country when she released shocking details of a sexual assault she suffered as a young athlete in January 2021.

Bekatorou’s disturbing allegations spurred countless other Greek athletes to speak out about their own experiences with rape and sexual assault in the world of Greek sports.

Eventually, this Greek #MeToo movement led many other figures in Greece to discuss their experiences openly and even publicly name alleged abusers, especially in television and theater.

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