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To fall down from the top and to find strength to stand back up on your feet!

30 October 2010 / 12:10:57  GRReporter
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One of the stars of the sprint in Greece - Katerina Tanou, tells of her greatest frustration and about the joy that the sport has brought her. For her, it all starts as early as when she was at the age of 15 years - then she signs up in a sports club and in a month she is already better than the girls who have been playing sports for three years, she says in an interview for the magazine "Marie Claire". The coach of the youth team in track and field athletics Christos Tsekos notices her, who takes her "under his wing" and takes her to the practices with the 20-year-old athletes. Since then, her life begins to revolve around the sprint. Three times a week - training at the national stadium, wakefulness until 3 o’clock at night to be able to prepare for exams in school, private lessons in foreign languages and preparation for university.

"My goal was to enter into the Sports Academy and I did it! At the university when everybody went for coffee, I was running away for training. My colleagues tried to get me to go out, but I was entirely devoted to sprints," says the Olympic champion Katerina Tanou.

Her career began in 1993 when at the Greek Championship in Athletics she won the silver medal, which is extremely good achievement for a girl who had recently started to play sports. Even more strenuous training sessions started, and University for her became second of less importance. "I had no company. Some small flirts even before they developed into a relationships ended because I had a very difficult program. To go out for a coffee over the weekend or go on vacation – there was no such thing. I wanted to get to the Olympics. And I decided to try. It was obvious that if I worked hard I would succeed. Every day I left the house at 6:30 am and came back at 11:00 o’clock in the evening" remembers Tanou adding that because of the intensive practices - four hours in the morning and five hours in the afternoon people have worried her mother, by asking her why she undergoes all this stress.

After many competitions, the athlete managed to qualify for her first Olympic Games in Atlanta, but two weeks before the start and she fractured a bone and managed to reach the semifinals. After the games, she met her former husband, who was a football player and two years later they got married in a very small family circle. Katerina Tanou in this priod is in the zenith of her career and her marriage closes the circle of her happiness. The following year – at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Katerina fears only one sprinter and indeed her fears were justified. She qualified second after her largest competitor the sprinter Marion Jones. And then she began preparations for the Athens Olympics - the expectations were great, the thrill to win a medal at home country, the hope, expectation ...

When approaching the Olympic Games in Athens, Tanou is in perfect physical condition – she had made a record for the country of 10.83 for 100 meters, and Athens was her home. August 12th will remain an unforgettable day for Katerina... but not for something good. This was the day when everyone was looking for her and Costas Kenderis to undergo anti-doping control test. On August 13th in the morning, they did undergo car accident and were in a hospital for four days and the next day after having testified before the International Olympic Committee, both sporting hopes of Greece submitted their accreditation and refuse to participate in the Olympics.

"I felt that the world is collapsing. It was the supreme moment in my career. I was preparing for this competition for four years. Nobody can understand what it means for an athlete to try and control every detail and at the last moment to lose everything. When the scandal was spread, I already was an Olympic champion. I have eleven medals. I have a biography to which many athletes would envy. But I wanted to win the gold medal in my own country. This was the worst experience in my life," said Katerina before "Marie Claire".

Her feelings - anger, sadness and complete ignorance, and the question "why" did not go out of her thoughts. Katerina closed in herself, did not allow even her parents to talk to her, but when it came the day of the competition, in which she would have participated herself, she stayed alone at her home and turned on TV. The Belarusian Yuliya Nesterenko won which really made Tanou angry as five days before the she had finished with a better time. And she was convinced that if she competed, the victory would have been hers. She did not cry. She accepted the reality. She did not watch television because in the media her name was only related to the negative comments. Three months she avoided leaving her home because the reporters waited for her in front of the house around the clock. Her life resembled a bad dream. It took her many months to recover. Nevertheless, she said she was strong and did not go to a psychologist to seek help.

Three months after the incident, Katerina Tanou returned to the mat. Slowly. And when she opened to the outside world she understood that nobody would be throwing stones at her. She calmed down and began to deal with some things for which she had not time left before - with the house, family, reading, coffee with friends, until in 2006 the court decision was released, allowing her to compete. Although she started preparation for the Olympics in Beijing and she bought her plane ticket, the International Olympic Committee prohibited her from participating. Again a big disappointment and sadness conquered Katerina, who at that time decided that this was the end of her career. "I always said to myself that when I stopped feeling the excitement and smell of the track I would stop competing. A year and a half ago this happened to me for the first time."

Tags: sport sprint doping antidoping control Olympics track and field athletics
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