Undoubtedly a balanced culture needs sport. Not only high-performance sport, but everyday sport too. Athens has a rich tradition in sports. The 2004 Olympic Games were the peak moment in the sporting history of modern Athens. They displayed the excellent infrastructure of the city and placed it at the heart of the global athletic world, where it belongs. And, of course, they rekindled the universal feeling that the Greek people are among the most hospitable in the world with great voluntary conscience.
Sporting facilities in Athens are of a high standard and available for prestigious, international events. The Olympic Stadium complex, the Panathinaiko (Kallimarmaro) Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896, the Karaiskakis Stadium, the Peace and Friendship Stadium, the many riding clubs, the excellent football pitches and basketball courts, the tennis courts, the outstanding sailing clubs, the House of Weightlifting, and many other facilities host major, well-attended sporting events all year round. The Athens Classic Marathon is definitely the most prominent annual event.
Spartathlon – From the Propylaea of the Acropolis to Sparta
The Spartathlon covers an arduous and demanding route of 246 kilometres. It takes place on the last Friday in September and attracts great athletes and many visitors. It is held in memory of another of Pheidippides’ great achievements, as recorded by Herodotus. According to the historical text, Pheidippides ran this distance to ask for help from the Spartans on behalf of the Athenians. Herodotus informs us that Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens.
The revival of this race has become renowned among long-distance athletes and there are always a remarkable number of entrants. People line the route wishing to enjoy at first hand their tremendous effort. The race was started by the enthusiasm and persistence of some men of vision, like the director Francis Carabott, who filmed unique documentaries from the first of these events.
International Acropolis Rally – speed with a history
Every June, the greatest names in car racing flock to Athens. At the same time the industries present their most high-powered models as it is a matter of prestige for a car to excel in this popular and highly-respected race.
The event lasts one week, starting from Athens but taking place in various parts of Greece, and it is covered by both the domestic and international Press. It is a chance for lovers of speed, socialites, action fans and international names, as well as the drivers, to get together.
The race was first held in 1951, but became an international event in 1953 under the organizational responsibility of the "Greek Automobile and Touring Club" (ELPA). However Greece has a long tradition of car races. In 1924 the Professor of Medicine, Vladimir Bensis, together with the editor of the newspaper "Vradini" Dimitrios Aravantinos, founded the Association of Greek Motorists and two years later, sponsored by the newspaper, the first car races were held.With this long tradition behind it, the Acropolis Rally will soon celebrate sixty years of speed and skill, though still preserving its originality.
Football or basketball?
It is widely known that Greek fans are particularly passionate. The famous Athenian teams, as well as other smaller associations, are rewarded with the adoration of their fans. In Athens sports lovers can watch top-notch football, both in national and international events.
Basketball is a particularly popular sport, having brought great joy with international distinctions to Greek teams. Emotions among fans run high at these important events and they give Athens a chance to see some of the greatest athletes at first hand.
The golf club in Glyfada bears the signature of a great designer, D. Harradine. It was renovated in 1979 by the renowned architect who specializes in constructing golf courses, R. T. Jones. It has a conference centre and its facilities can welcome up to 4000 people, athletes and visitors.
The bicycle’s dynamic entrance into Athenian life
The cycling tour of Athens aims at supporting the relationship between residents and visitors and the bicycle. The capital, with its new transport policy, has become bicycle friendly, as congestion on roads in Athens has been considerably relieved. So it is no longer an uncommon sight to see families, friends, pensive cyclists and travellers in a relaxed frame of mind, enjoying the sights in the capital accompanied by their bikes.
Sport for all
It is not only the major sports events that attract people’s interest. Residents and visitors in Athens can not only watch their favourite sport, but can themselves take part in it. Whether they want to go diving, fishing or water-skiing on one of Attica’s beaches, or to jog to stay fit, or to relax by playing tennis, they are sure to find excellent facilities and expert trainers. Over the last few years people have become aware that apart from being enjoyable, sport is good for the health. And Athens is well aware of this.