The perfect Olympic story

Carlo Borlenghi /
Laser silver medallist Pavlos Kontides on becoming a national star in his native Cyprus
One of our favourite tales to come out of the sailing at London 2012 was that of Pavlos Kontides. One of two Cypriots competing in Weymouth, the 22-year-old from Limassol was an outside shot at a medal and yet claimed Laser silver behind Australia’s run-away favourite Tom Slingsby. For larger nations this might have been of only minor consequence. But for Kontides this represented not just Cypriot’s only medal in sailing, but the only medal his country has won across ANY sport at the Olympic Games...EVER, since Cyprus gained independence in 1960.  Understandably since he returned home from the Games Kontides has become an overnight celebrity. “There were really big celebrations were waiting for me,” admits Kontides. “All the people back home - they think I am a national hero now, especially young kids. They are much more interested in sport now and I was really happy to see that, because the motto of the Olympic Games was to ‘inspire a generation’.” Iinbound at the airport in Larnaca returing from London 2012 he was met by a crowd of 4,000-5,000 fans carrying banners and shouting his name. As is a Greek tradition for returning Olympians, at the airport he was crowned with laurels. Celebrations continued at his sailing club, the Limassol Nautical Club, attended by members of the club, the Cypriot Sailing Federation as well as members of parliament and the Mayor and city councillors.   This featured a more unique celebration, as Kontides explains: “In the past in ancient Greece when an Olympian was coming home they used to have walls around the village and they broke down part of the wall for the Olympian to pass through and they never rebuilt it to show others that they don’t need protection any more – they have an Olympian. They tried to same – they broke a small