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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 31 January 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 31 JANUARY 2015 29 SPORT A triathlete’s Olympic dream Twenty-two-yearold James Dennis Chronis is getting ready to represent Greece in the European Games and is one step closer to realising his Olympic dream ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS Before triathlete James Dennis Chronis falls asleep at night and when he awakes in the morning, there's only one thought on his mind: the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. But before that can become a reality, the 22-year-old must get through the Continental Cup in Takapuna, New Zealand next month and the first European Games in Azerbaijan in June, where he will have the honour of representing Greece, the birth place of his grandparents and the country of his heritage. "Australia was great to represent, but being such a competitive nation it was hard to get spots into races as you are only allocated six spots in main events," Chronis explains. "I'd always had the option [of representing Greece] at the back of my mind and obvious- ly being Greek Australian, I wouldn't have minded representing my heritage country." Following discussions with the Greek Triathlon Federation and the green light from the Australian Triathlon Federation, Chronis is feeling positive about the transition to the Greek side. Currently ranked 35th in Europe, his ultimate goal is to represent Greece at the Olympics, whether it be Rio in 2016 or Tokyo in 2020, and to get there he approaches his sport like one would a full time job. A lifestyle choice, to reach such an elite sporting level, the regime Chronis has adopted demands his commitment daily and is nothing short of intense. The triathlete trains two to three times a day, swimming twice a day with a run in between and a ride every second day to prepare him for the 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and the 10km run that awaits him. "This morning for instance, I was up at 4.30 am and I went for a two and half hour bike ride and in about half an hour I'm going for a swim. Then I also have massages and physiotherapy because my body gets put through quite a lot of pressure and then at 5 o'clock I have a run as well. So it takes up the whole day," he tells Neos Kosmos. But this lifestyle is not new for Chronis, who has been waking up in the early hours of the morning for his love of swimming since the age of 12. "I was a competitive swimmer state-wise and nationalwise. It was pretty competitive and I didn't grow too much more, so everyone was beating me by their height," he recalls. James Dennis Chronis in action. "One of my teachers recommended I do a triathlon for a school competition. So I did my first triathlon down in Mordialloc and I won it. Did the next one, I won that." In his debut year, Chronis became the state champion, taking the victory as a sign to officially transition across to triathlons, and has gone from strength to strength ever since. James with his major sponsor, businessman and philanthropist Andreas Andrianopoulos. stay motivated." "There are obviously moments when you wake up at 4.30 am and think 'It's early, I haven't slept enough'. But having a good network around you of positive people - I've found that's a good key and thankfully that's what I do have," he says. "I've got great support from my family and friends around me and sponsors as well. If they believe in my, I believe in myself. It's a great way to Chronis' major sponsor is his uncle, Greek Australian businessman and philanthropist Andreas Andrianopoulos, who has generously helped the young athlete to get to where he is today. In the upcoming European Games all eyes will be on Chronis, as he competes as the only Greek representative in the triathlon event amongst sixty other competitors. Passionate about what he does, he encourages anyone with similar aspirations to give it a go and follow their dreams. "Put yourself around posi- tive people and always strive for your best. Believe in yourself and anything can happen, dreams do come true," he says. "I've always thought of going to the Olympics since I was a young boy and slowly, slowly, step by step, it's getting closer fingers crossed! There's always a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how hard you think it is." Zaharakis appointed AFL multicultural ambassador Essendon star joins fellow Hellenes Jimmy Toumpas and Patrick Karnezis MICHAEL SWEET Three AFL stars of Greek descent will play their part in the AFL's Multicultural Program this year, joining nine other player ambassadors. Hawthorn dual Premiership player Paul Puopolo, David Zaharakis, the Gold Coast Sun's Nick Malceski, and Brisbane Lions' James Aish will join existing multicultural ambassadors Nic Naitanui, Bachar Houli, Jobe Watson, Alipate Carlile, Stephen Coniglio, Jimmy Toumpas, Lin Jong and Patrick Karnezis in promoting the diverse backgrounds of players engaged in Australia's game. AFL General Manager People, Customer and Commu- nity, Dorothy Hisgrove said the newly-appointed ambassadors were chosen based on community leadership and their commitment to growing the game. "It is important that Australian Football continues to provide an inclusive environment which attracts people from all cultural backgrounds to enjoy our game as fans, players and officials as the AFL upholds a commitment to strengthen diversity in our game," said Ms Hisgrove. "We are excited to expand the program to welcome Paul, David, Nick and James and look forward to the Australia Post AFL Multicultural Ambassadors playing a crucial role in raising cultural understanding and encouraging participation in Australian Football at all levels," Starting with the Australia Post AFL Community Camp in February, Zaharakis and his fellow ambassadors will play a leading role in giving back to regional fans by acknowledging their loyalty and support first-hand when the team is in town. Multicultural ambassadors will be at the forefront of the AFL Multicultural Round to be held this year in Round 19 of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season. With the support of Australia Post, the round will celebrate 'Many Cultures, One Game' and highlight community engagement initiatives being undertaken by the ambassadors and the entire Australian football industry. In 2015, players from multicultural backgrounds make up 15 per cent of the AFL player list. Australia Post General Manager Community Relations, Andrea Pearman said: "Together with the AFL, we share a strong and ongoing commitment to celebrating cultural diversity and sharing the message that everyone is welcome to our game, irrespective of their background. "Multiculturalism enriches Australian neighbourhoods and our ambassador program provides us with many opportunities to tell the story of how different cultures and the game of AFL can come together as one." A priority for David Zaharakis as an ambassador will be to continue to drive the Zahrakais Multicultural Academy in northern Melbourne. Melbourne FC's Jimmy Toumpas will facilitate cultural education sessions with community football clubs and assist with multicultural talent programs at the Toumpas Academy in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. Collingwood's Patrick Karnezis will work on the Multicultural Community Ambassador program as well as the AFL's multicultural festivals strategy and social media strategy. David Zaharakis at the 2015 Australia Post AFL Multicultural Ambassador Program press call at Etihad Stadium last week. PHOTO: MICHAEL WILLSON/AFL MEDIA.
24 January 2015
7 February 2015