By Andreas Vou
CYPRUS will have two representatives in next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi in the form of skiers Alexandra Taylor and Constantinos Papamichael.
The duo were presented in front of the media this week, along with the other three members of the delegation. Pavlos Fotiadis who is a board member of the Cyprus Olympic Committee (COC) and will chair the team, Demetris Papatheodotou who will accompany the delegation and Milan Matic, the coach of the Cyprus Skiing Federation.
19-year old Taylor will compete in the slalom as part of alpine skiing while 20-year old Papamichael will also participate in alpine skiing’s giant slalom and slalom.
The games will take place from February 7-23 and Cyprus’ talented pair will get underway in the second week of the games, with Taylor on February 21 and Papamichael in the giant slalom on February 19 and slalom on the 22nd.
Papamichael said he felt unique satisfaction and pride for representing his country in such a big competition while he also was quick to warn that a podium finish will be difficult to secure, stating that “many compete but not everybody can win”.
Taylor ensured that she would give the best possible account of herself, acknowledging the difficulty and competiveness of the Games.
Fotiadis believes that the athletes travel to Sochi having gone through the appropriate training that gives the team every right to be confident that this will be the most successful Winter Olympics Cyprus has ever had.
COC Chairman Ouranios Ioannides wished the athletes all the best and acknowledged the difficulties that Cypriot athletes who compete in winter sports face, being at a disadvantage due to the fact that the majority of their training is held abroad.
A major absentee for the Cypriot team is that of skier Dinos Lefkaritis who, despite earning the right to compete in the Games, suffered a serious injury in training and will therefore be unable to make the trip to Russia.
Cyprus’ first participation in the Winter Olympics came in 1980 at Lake Placid in the United States, with the island never having won a medal since.
The Games will be hosted by Russia for the first time as the southern coastal city of Sochi prepares to take centre stage.
It will also be a new experience for Thomas Bach, who will preside over his first Olympic Games after being recently elected the new IOC president to replace Jacques Rogge.
The Games will feature a total of 98 events in seven sports, including 12 new events that will make their Olympic debut in an all new purpose-built Olympic Park known as the ‘Coastal Cluster’, hosting over 2,500 athletes from more than 80 nations.