Having conquered Mount Olympus, a young disabled Greek woman made her dream of an assisted airplane skydive come true on Saturday. With the assistance of a skydive trainer, Eleftheria Tosiou finally conquered the sky.
Along with her mother, aunt, some close relatives, and veteran basketball player Dimitris Papanikolaou, Eleftheria reached the “SkyDive Athens” facilities and wen aboard a special skydiving aircraft. By her side was skydiving trainer Dimitris Sourlis, who dove with her.
“Wearing the appropriate gear, we got on the plane and I was tied onto Mr. Sourlis’ body,” said the daring skydiver. “The takeoff was steeper than that of a passenger plane, but it was still fun.”
The disabled Greek woman says that the fun stopped when the plane reached the clouds at 14,000 feet, however. “At that moment I felt both awe and fear, to be honest. I thought about backing out, but fortunately ‘dare’ took me over.”
Disabled woman is now Biology graduate, mountain climber, skydiver
Tosiou, 23, who is a graduate student in Biology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, says it is hard to put into words the view and the shock of free falling from an airplane.
“We stood at the edge of the airplane door with our feet hanging out for a few seconds, and then we jumped – there was no turning back now,” she describes. “We approached the clouds and kept on falling. My focus was to keep my eyes open and my senses widened, so that I could absorb the experience.”
After they passed the clouds, the parachute opened and the panoramic view of the Earth from above gave Eleftheria a sense of majesty. “I was trying to take in all this view. I wasn’t scared, Dimitris kept giving me the right instructions, he was enjoying the ride too!” she recalls.
At 23, Tosiou has completed the second “dare” of her young life, after assisted-climbing Mount Olympus, exactly one year before her skydive. She had earlier expressed her desire to climb to the highest peak of Olympus to her friend, long-distance runner Marios Giannakou.
Greece’s disabled climber summits Mt. Olympus
He himself had already completed an astounding 50 climbs of Greece’s highest mountain successfully. But the 51st, he had said, would be the most special for him. Giannakou, who carried Eleftheria in a specially-made backpack, climbed Olympus with an eight-member support crew.
They reached a refuge at 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) where they spent the night, before setting off at 6:00 AM for Mytikas, Mt. Olympus’ highest peak, which stands at 2,918 meters (9,573 feet).
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis congratulated the two through an online chat with the endurance runner and the young woman, while they were still at a refuge on their way down. “It was a fantastic idea, and we are very happy you implemented it,” he said, wishing them a safe completion of their return.