“Sports, from dream to feat,” a three-day sports celebration, culminated at the National Coastal Sports Facilities in Karteros Beach.
On Sunday, three days of celebration dedicated to Olympic Day culminated in a moving event at the new Karteros Beach Sports Center outside Heraklion. Some 20 great Cretan athletes, including Olympians, Paralympians, and international champions, gathered to share their values, talents, and stories.
The celebration, organized by the National Sports Center of Heraklion and the Deputy Ministry of Sports Lefteris Avgenakis, witnessed young and old gathered in one place to witness and participate in a multitude of competitions by specialized coaches and their clubs. Participants also got to know the amazing charitable work, the social structure, and the giving community surrounding Crete sport.
The key takeaway by all concerned was about values like selflessness, giving, volunteering, justice, and solidarity, not to mention the cornerstone of sport, fair play.
Lefteris Avgenakis, the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Spyros Kapralos, the President of the Greek Paralympic Committee, George Kapellakis, as well as the President of the Hellenic Red Cross, Dr. Antonios Avgerinos, were all on hand to join in this unique celebration. Deputy Minister of Sports Avgenakis praised everyone’s effort for this three-day event, saying:
“When I was still a little kid, I wanted to get into politics, it seemed like a dream. I started this journey from Messara, without a “political dowry,” without any guarantee, without any support and I managed to achieve my own small feat. I carry the love for my country, my passion for politics, and my need to offer to my fellow man. My only weapons are hard work, perseverance, and the need to achieve. Besides these, I had nothing else. Now I offer you my strength, my fellow citizens.”
The sports leaders gathered all praised the work of Avgenakis and the ministry for carrying on the great work in the most difficult of times. The securing of funding for projects like the Karteros Beach Sports Center, the Acropolis Rally, the International Cycling, and other key engagements was no small undertaking for the government, with a pandemic still looming. The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos, among others, added his thanks:
“It was with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation to travel to Crete for the Olympic Day, to honor the Deputy Minister and thus express my thanks for what he does for the sports movement.”
The President of the Paralympic Committee, Giorgos Kapellakis, was also vocal about his appreciation for the enormous work that has been done on the part of the Deputy Ministry. He offered this poignant anecdote:
“This event brings athletes to the forefront, something that in previous years was not self-evident. They usually forget us after the successes. Dear Deputy Minister, Lefteris Avgenakis, it is important not to forget the athletes who inspire the new generation.”
Wonderful athletes like taekwondo champion Maria Karpathaki and basketball great Dimitris Kokolakis told their moving stories. Olympic champion Nikos Kaklamanakis gripped everyone’s heart when he took the president of EPE, Giorgos Kapellakis, to the platform with him to emphasize the “feat” that athletes with disabilities accomplish. His words of determination, self-confidence, courage, and ultimately humility resonated like a leeward 30-knot wind within the crowd attending.
The highlight of the 3-day event was the recognition of the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers and organizations that support the ministry, Greece sports, and especially Crete’s sporting endeavors. Organizations like The Smile of a Child, SOS Children’s Villages, “Iliachtida” – Pancretan Association of Parents and Friends of Children with Neoplasia, Heraklion Lions Club, the Company of Love charity, and dozens more were honored.