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Sofia Sakorafa Becomes First Woman to Lead Greek Athletics Federation

Sofia Sakorafa
Sofia Sakorafa becomes the first woman to lead SEGAS. Credit: Hellenic Athletics Federation

Former star athlete and current MP Sofia Sakorafa became the first woman to head the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS), Greece’s oldest sports federation, following an online vote on Wednesday.

SEGAS, which was founded in 1897 to represent all sports, before they split off to form federations of their own, currently focuses on track and field sports.

Sakorafa, who was born in 1957 in Trikala, has held multiple records and awards in national and international javelin events.

In total, Sakorafa – often pushed by her antagonistic relationship with Anna Verouli – broke the Greek record for the javelin seventeen times. She competed in the 1976 and 1980 Summer Olympics.

In 1982 she achieved a world record, throwing the javelin 74.20 meters (243 feet), a record she maintained to 1983.

She holds 17 national records, improving her previous records by over 30 meters. In international meets, she earned bronze in the European games of Athens (1982), gold in the Split games (1979) and bronze in the Latakia games (1987).

Sakorafa stirred up some controversy in 2004, however, when she became a Palestinian citizen and applied a few months before the Olympic Games for a berth on the Palestinian Olympic team at the age of 47.

She made her debut, representing Palestine in Chania, Crete, on June 28, 2004, throwing the javelin 47.23 meters there.

Despite the fact that her gesture to participate as a Palestinian was symbolic, the IAAF ruled her ineligible for the 2004 Summer Olympics.

She graduated from the former National Academy of Physical Training in Thessaloniki and after leaving the sports arena became a politician.

Sakorafa as a leftist politician

She was elected MP for the first time with PASOK in Athens (2007) and was expelled by the party in 2010 after refusing to vote for the first loan memorandum.

She has served as MP and EuroMP with Syriza, and as of 2019 serves as MP of Yanis Varoufakis MeRA25.

She resigned from Syriza over disagreements with the leadership over the introduction of further austerity measures in Greece.

She said at that time: “It’s clear that I cannot support any government nor any policies that involve measures that harm the people.”

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