31st May, 2012
Spyros Gianniotis, who started the Olympic torch relay at the ancient site of Olympia earlier this month has revealed that something he hopes to achieve in London is to win a medal for Greece in swimming since 1896.
Gianniotis says his goals are “to make my country proud, to make me proud, and my family, and everybody that believes in me — to feel that good can come out of Greece.”
He was born in Liverpool, England, but will represent Greece in the upcoming London Olympics. At 32, he is the 10-kilometre open-water world champion, and one of Greece’s best hopes for a medal in London. He’s on a team of Olympians whose training budget has been drastically reduced by austerity measures and economic crisis.
Gianniotis first swam as a toddler. He was on a boat with his grandmother, whom he calls his Nan, watching his mother swimming in the Ionian Sea. His mother later told him she saw joy in his eyes.
“And I was on the boat with my Nan, and my mom said: ‘Throw him in.’ And I was just 2, 2 1/2 years old, not more than that,” he says. “So she did throw me in the water and I swam to my mom. … and I loved it.”