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A grand ending for Greece at close of Rio Olympics

Despite the lack of resources, the makeshift training facilities in many cases, Greece did everyone proud at this year’s Rio Olympics, proving once again, that despite its small population it punches above its weight, coming first in the world in three sports, and ranking 26th in the world out of 207 participating nations.

It’s no small feat when you consider the financial crisis and despair that took hold of the country several years after a very successful Athens Olympics. Of course, money and resources are not always enough to discourage success as many athletes from poorer countries have demonstrated, but Greek athletes had another challenge only few countries faced: the state of the national psyche, one that was depleted of hope and the strength to dream.

A national psyche that was more depressed than the economy itself, haemorrhaging hope because of the staggering unemployment and suicide rates, humiliated because once proud and self-sufficient families were lining up to beg for food or told they can’t access their hard earned money because of banking restrictions.

This was the environment that Greek athletes lived through, trained through, fought through, in addition to the physical and mental challenges of their respective training regimes.

Greece once again, as in its own 2004 Olympics, shut the mouths of doomsayers, like Goldman Sachs who in their July 2016 Olympics and Economics Report predicted Greece will fail miserably, possibly not even winning a medal. But Greek athletes defied them.

In the 2004 Athens Olympics Greece ranked 15th in the world with 426 participating athletes and 16 medals. In Rio, they had only 95 athletes, but with 12 of them among the worlds top eight.

Greece and many other countries with smaller populations and resources, prove time and time again you need heart and strength of spirit as well to participate and be an Olympian.