Development of Triathlon in Greece.

Development of Triathlon in Greece.

Text Giannis Psarelis, BSc, MSc, MBA, PhDc (2000)

Brief Historical review

“In 1991, the Hellenic Triathlon Club organised the first Triathlon competition in Greece. Since that time, this same Club has consistently staged several annual races, with upwards of five to ten Triathlons being competed in each year. The Hellenic Amateur Triathlon Federation was founded in 1996, and was renamed in 1999 as the Hellenic Triathlon Federation”. (

It’s interesting to mention that the clubs that have signed the Constitution of the Federation are Karate clubs, eg.”athletic club vital karate”, “okinawa te tai karate Do Chanion”, “athletic club Kyokushin and vital karate”…None of these clubs continue to be active members of the Federation and none of them has made any effort to develop the sport of Triathlon. I have searched the results of the National Championship and I have found out that none of these clubs had a participant at the starting lists. So many questions arise: Was the creation of the Federation legal and according to the athletic law? How has happened that eleven Karate clubs that were not interested in the development of Triathlon have participated at the foundation of the Federation? Why the Minister of Sports and Culture has not investigated further the issue? Why the people who have signed the constitution are not involved at the administration of the sport (with the exemption of the General Secretary of the Federation Mr.Andreas Arvanitis)?

After long discussions with people who are involved many years at the management of the National Federations in Greece I was told that the main goal for the creation of the Triathlon Federation was to help the Government to control the National Olympic Committee. The elections at the National Olympic Committee take place after the Olympic Games. The Triathlon Federation was founded in February 1996 and at the elections that took place after the Atlanta Olympic Games a representative of the Federation has voted for the National Olympic Committee’s elections.

I was also told that some of the people that have participated at the Executive Board of the Federation have being members of various Federations e.g. the General Secretary of the National Triathlon Federation was president of the Fencing National Federation in 1987, and has become member of the EB of Weightlifting, Tennis and Cycling Federation. His main job is worker at the Athens Velodrome but due to the fact that he is a General Secretary of the National Federation he has managed to …

Lack of development by facts and figures
Although the creation of the National Federation was supposed to mean a further development of the sport in the country, this is not the case. The inclusion of the sport at the Olympic program and the fact that the sport is sponsored by the state was supposed to mean a significant development of the sport in Greece. The following facts and figures prove that there is no significant development of the Sport:
1. The number of athletes that participate each year at the National Championships has not increased. In 2000 and 2001 no more than 15 men showed up at the start line of the National championships while at the first race that was organised in Greece (Kavouri, 1991) more than 50 athletes have shown up to the start line. There are many articles at the sport journals making comments about the situation. We have found an article at the sports journal “athlitiki icho” which describes well the situation: “It wasn’t of course the first time that the paid staff and officials were more than the athletes in a Triathlon race…22 marshals plus officials, lifeguards, secretariat, police officers and only 22 athletes”. In general the number of participates in races has not increased significantly, if not to say that it has decreased. I have asked the Athletes why the number of the participants doesn’t increase and they all have replied that there is due to the fact that athletes do not get support from their clubs and the Federation as well. They all express their belief that the Executive Board of the Federation only cares to control “get the money from the State” and control the situation. I consider as very useful to know the annual number of active Triathletes. I have made many efforts to contact the people from Federation and kindly ask them to give me the data with this useful information. They have refused. I examine in a different paragraph the limit factors that restrict the athletes participation.

2. The number of the races that are organised nation-wide remains constant. In 1993 The Hellenic Triathlon Club organised 3 duathlon (run- bike – run) races, 3 Olympic distance races and 3 sprint races(Hellenic Triathlon Club files). In 2002 2 duathlon, 3 sprint distance Triathlon and 3 Olympic Distance Triathlon were organised by the National federation. According to the National Federation their budget doesn’t allow them to organise more races. At the same time they want to control all the races and they don’t allow individuals to organise races. In 1996 Afea club wanted to organise a European International race (ETU Prestige Race) and instead to have the support of the Federation there were many interesting issues like : the athletes were threatened that if they participate in such a race they would suspended from the NFs races, the organising club was warned that it will get suspended from the Federation e.t.c. Finally the race took place but the club that had organised the race is not any more a member of the Federation. The sports journalist Mr.Panagiotis Xanthopoulos, writing for the sport journal Athlitiki Icho, writes about it: “In front of the National Federation’s persistence to stop the organisation of the Prestige race in Aegina (although the International rules give the right to individual Local Organisers to organise races out of the control of the National Governing Bodies) Afea club has asked ETU to withdraw the title ETU Prestige race. The European Triathlon Union has refused such a thing…That means that the race will be organised because it is protected from ETU.

3. The number of International races organised in Greece has not increased. In May 1992 the sport club Kouros organised an International race in Thessalonica with the participation of more than 50 athletes (10 of which came from Bulgaria). In 1996 the Sport club of Aegina Afea has organised a race on the island with the participation of more than 20 foreign athletes coming from various European countries. In 2002 no International was organised in Greece.

4. The sport does not receive special coverage from the media. There is no TV coverage of any race in Greece, even the International races. ATHOC, in November 2000 conducted a survey in order to identify the true interest of the Greek audience both in terms of television viewing and onsite spectatorship (venues). Triathlon together with Modern Pentathlon share the third place of the least popular events as far as the TV viewing is concerned.(ATHOC survey)

5. The sponsors are not interested for the sport, as a consequence of the limit number of participants and the lack of media coverage. There is no funding from sponsors. The rest of the National Federations around the word have ensured sponsors. In 1999, during the 2nd INSEP international Congress the president of the Triathlon Australian Federation Bill Walker mentions “ our funding comes for 50% from our sponsors. The balance comes from the Australian Institute of Sport”. Even countries from East Europe have made efforts to ensure funding from sponsors. At the same congress Vaclav Marek, Secretary General of the Czech Triathlon Association (CTA) mentions that “the largest source of revenues of the CTA is raised via sponsorship packages sold to business partners” (Marek V.(1999)).

6. The level of organisation at the Races, according to the athletes, has not increased. In some races the life of the athletes has been put in danger (Athlitiki Icho articles). Such incidences have damaged the sport as it has created an image of a dangerous sport, according to the participants at the “pilot” questionnaire.

7. The clubs have not well organised as many of them do not have coaches. The athletes are training by their own (pilot questionnaire and self observation) and they become very de-motivated as the access to sport facilities is difficult.

8. The number of Greek elite athletes that compete at International competitions has not increased.

9. The number of the clubs that are affiliated to the Federation has not increased. The ex-national coach Mr.Aggelos Koutlianos has explained me that he has founded a Triathlon club and has made an affiliation request but he hasn’t received any answer. That is why he has taken legal action against the Federation. The president of Nautical Club of Vouliagmeni (European cup winners champions in water-polo) Mr.Kabanis has explained me that he wanted to create a Triathlon Team but the General Secreatary of the Federation has asked him not to do it.
During the 1996 European Triathlon Championships representatives from Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia met in order to discuss problems specific to Eastern and south-eastern Europe. “The major difficulty was financial all countries except Greece…. Hungary and Czech Republic are the oldest federations in eastern and south-eastern Europe; they also register the best performances (together with Ukraine and Russia) and propose the most prestigious races (together with Yugoslavia)” (Pavlovic, D.(1999))So the question that naturally arises “if The National Federation doesn’t faces financial problems why the sport doesn’t develop with the rates and way that the Greek athletes and fans would like to?

Article Name
Development of Triathlon in Greece.

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Ο κ. Γιάννης Ψαρέλης είναι από τα ιστορικά στελέχη του Τριάθλου στη χώρα μας έχοντας παρακολουθήσει και συμμετέχει έντονά στη διοικητική ανάπτυξη του αθλήματος. Χρόνια μέλος των εθνικών ομάδων ,εκπρόσωπος των αθλητών στην τεχνική επιτροπή του αθλήματος, υπεύθυνος χάραξης των διαδρομών αγώνων της Ομοσπονδίας μεταξύ των οποίων και της Ολυμπιακής διαδρομής του 2004 στη Βουλιαγμένη,έχει διατελέσει γενικός γραμματέας της Ομοσπονδίας Τριάθλου και εκπρόσωπος αυτής στην Ελληνική Ολυμπιακή Επιτροπή. Έχει πληθώρα προπονητικών πιστοποιήσεων στα αθλήματα αντοχής από εθνικές ομοσπονδίες και συνδέσμους προπονητών. Έχει παρακολουθήσει πλήθος εκπαιδευτικών σεμιναρίων της Διεθνούς Ομοσπονδίας Τριάθλου τόσο για Διοργανωτές Αγώνων όσο και κριτές. Επίσης έχει παρακολουθήσει πολυήμερα σεμινάρια για διοργανωτές αγώνων στη Λοζάνη κάτω από την εποπτεία της ΔΟΕ. Έχει σπουδάσει Χημεία στο Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών. Έχει τους εξής πανεπιστημιακούς μεταπτυχιακούς τίτλους : Αθλητική Διοίκηση (Παν.Lyon1-Masters in Sport Organisations Management – πρόγραμμα αναγνωρισμένο από την Διεθνή Ολυμπιακή Επιτροπή), Αθλητική Διοίκηση (Παν. Leicester), Διοίκηση Επιχειρήσεων (Οικονομικό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών- Executive MBA), Μάρκετινγκ & Επικοινωνία (Οικονομικό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών -MSc in Marketing and communication with New Technologies). Προπονητής Τριάθλου Προπονητής Τριάθλου Ο κ.Γιάννης Ψαρέλης έχει διατελέσει Διοικητικός Υπεύθυνος καθώς και Υπεύθυνος Στρατηγικής & Ανάπτυξης στο Sports Excellence (πρόγραμμα που πραγματοποιείται υπό την επιστημονική επίβλεψη της Α’ Ορθοπαιδικής Κλινικής του ΕΚΠΑ, όντας εγκεκριμένο κέντρο από τον Διεθνή Σύνδεσμο Κέντρων Υψηλού Αθλητισμού) έχοντας την επιστημονική επίβλεψη μέχρι και 1800 επίλεκτων αθλητών και αθλητριών προεθνικών και εθνικών ομάδων έως 18 ετών καθώς και των μελών της Προ-Ολυμπαικής προετοιμασίας για τους ΟΑ του Τόκυο (με μνημόνιο συνεργασίας με την ΕΟΕ). Σε επίπεδο ακαδημαϊκό/ ερευνητικό με σημείο αναφοράς μεταπτυχιακές και διδακτορικές σπουδές ασχολείται κυρίως με την επίδραση των προϊόντων νεοπρενίου/ wetsuit στην κολύμβηση τριαθλητών καθώς και με την μεγιστοποίηση της απόδοσης των αθλητών στο mixed relay του Τριάθλου. Από το 1990 συμμετέχει ως εισηγητής σε πλήθος εκπαιδευτικά προγράμματα επιμόρφωσης προπονητών, καθηγητών Φυσικής Αγωγής, γονέων αλλά και αθλητών είτε αναπτύσσοντας τεχνικά θέματα που αφορούν το Τρίαθλο είτε θέματα που αφορούν την ηθική στον αθλητισμό και το αντι-ντόπινγκ. Αρθογραφεί σε πλήθος αθλητικών ιστοσελίδων και περιοδικών σε θέματα που αφορούν την προπονητική, τους κανονισμούς του Τριάθλου ή θέματα ηθικής/ κοινωνιολογίας του αθλητισμού. Ο ίδιος σε συνεργασία με αθλητικούς φορείς (Ομοσπονδίας, Σωματείων και Αθλητικών Οργανισμών των Δήμων) από το 1990 έως σήμερα έχει σχεδιάσει και διοργανώσει έχοντας την επίβλεψη πάνω από 50 αγώνων σε όλη την Ελλάδα (Αθήνα, Χανιά, Ρέθυμνο, Τρίπολη, Θεσσαλονίκη, Σέρρες, Πιερία κ.λπ.)