The Games were staged for the second time – 12 months on from them in the first Games.
Organising committee from the Ministry of Education in Greece provided a varied and memorable programme for all participants. Central to the games are the Ancient facilities with such historic significance to world sport.
73 students from 10 delegation and 9 countries participated in this year’s Games (Belgium-German Speaking Community, Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, England, France, Hungary, Slovakia, Special Olympics Greece, and Greece).
The games participants traveled west from Athens to the Olympia -famous for hosting the Ancient Olympic Games- for the first two days.
Accommodated in a very comfortable hotel just outside Olympia, The students participated in the guided tour of the beautiful Olympic park. The athletes strolled through the historic and beautiful site of statues and ancient buildings, populated by wild olive and plane trees. And then – enjoyed a memorable experience of running in the original ancient Olympic “Stadium Run” of 192m. All participants were awarded an olive wreath as a token of participation. Fascinating guided tours of the park and of the Olympic Games Museum were provided for all students. Some of the stories of the rules and practices in the ancient Games were a revelation for many!
The International Olympic Academy hosted, local Physical Education Teachers and their respective Association organized, a mixed 5-aside football event in the impressive grounds of the Academy. The most impressive aspect of the month this was the way that the students -along with their coaches- played and got on with the other students boys and girls, who they had never met before. A memorable and marvellous atmosphere of fun and enjoyment!
The Mayor of Olympia and the Deputy Secretary of the Region of Western Greece hosted a special event in the Olympia town Square on the final beautiful evening. Following speeches and presentations the students were treated to a marvellous exhibition of Greek dance. Then all the students and the staff were invited to participate in some of the dances – they did so with relish!
The return bus journey to Athens followed the beautiful coast past the city of Patras and the famous Corinth Canal. The Games was now based in a splendid resort hotel, close to the town of Marathon. All delegations reported how much they enjoyed staying in the Golden Coast with marvellous restaurant, several swimming pools, tennis courts, its own beach including a volleyball court.
Whilst staying at the Golden Coast hotel the Games staged an opening ceremony at the “Peace & Friendship Stadium” home of Olympiakos Basketball Club, close to Piraeus, the major port of Athens. The President of the ISF Laurent Petrynka attended and addressed the gathering of politicians, sponsors, and embassy staff. A very impressive display of traditional Greek dance was provided by physical education teachers.
The start venue for the Athens Classic Marathon providing the games venue for Classic Marathon and the Marathon museum, provided the Games with the perfect stage for the athletes to experience the historical significance of the Marathon. What up privilege it was for all present to listen and meet with Rosa Mota (The Best Woman Marathon Runner Ever – according to Association of International Marathons and Distance Races / IMS – the winner of the first ever women’s Marathon Race, Olympic gold medalist, World and European Champion etc.). Rosa provided such image of a role model for Sport, how warm humility and her experience will long be remembered by everybody present. Rosa present at the games was courtesy of “save the dream” – a Qatar Olympic committee project. Along with presentation from the Greek Olympic Bronze medalist in Rythmic Gymnastics Klelia Pantazi (courtesy of Ferrero Hellas) the students learned of their thoughts on sport and its values. In addition to the delegations heard about the International Centre for Olympic Truce – which strives for a truce from hostilities from during the Olympics that are held every two years.
Then all athletes had the experience of running, around 800m of the marathon route.
Later, the students had fun playing mixed 3v3 basketball teams in a Marathon sports hall.
The ISF Nations Night with a joyous affair with some spectacular, some musical and some amusing presentations from the small national teams. Each of the tables provided for the teams where festooned with food wine and artefacts posters and publications- associated with their knees nation. Quite amazing!
A stunning moment of the night when Rosa Mota donated, during an official ceremony, her “Best Ever Woman marathon Runner” Prize to the Marathon Run Museum.
The final day included a guided tour through the archaeological remains in the city centre. In particular the Acropolis /Parthenon the fabulous new Acropolis Museum. And then onto the spectacular Panathenaic Stadium, the Venue of the 1st Modern Olympic Games in 1896. What a spectacular place to complete the formal programme!
The Farewell Party – included a vote of thanks for the many individuals and organisations that had ensured the Games was run so successfully. There was also mention of inviting each head of delegation to contribute their ideas on improving the future Games. The athletes were encouraged to return home and to take some of the ancient values of sport into practice.
Article written by Charlie Raeburn
All pictures available here