How do you deal with your biggest fears? By confronting them directly. Byron Kokkalanis did it and became champion. Bwin stood by his side along with his coach, Nikos Kaklamanakis, in all difficulties and helped him become the hottest prospect of Greece for a medal in Olympic Games.
Sometimes, in sport, an influence is enough to light the fire. Byron, like most of the kids his age, was growing up with the dream of becoming a footballer. He wanted to be a top-class goalkeeper. Later in his puberty, he played basketball for two years for his local club. And then he met the waves because of his father, who was passionate with windsurfing. It was a love at first sight, even though deep waters were always Byron’s biggest fear. Through sports, he managed to get over it. As happened with all the hardships he found in his way. And there were many of them.
Sea became a synonym of Kokkalanis’ life since he was 13-year-old. His first race was in Chalkida in 1999. While his was returning home, a flat tire at the trailer that was carrying his equipment forced all the surfs and the coach’s boat to roll down at the highway. Fortunately, no one was injured. Next year, he won the Children World Championship and he knew exactly which course to take in life.
Byron was competing in Mistral until 2004 and then he crossed over into RSX. He excelled in European and worldwide level and he won the second place at the European Tournament of 2017. He ranked sixth at the Olympic Games of London and fifth at the Rio Olympics. In the meantime, he had a lot of adventures. For example, in 2011 In Perth, he had to compete in a place full of white sharks. He had to sign that he participates at his own risk.
Even though he mastered the waves, there were some issues beyond his limits. The lack of financial resources was a huge obstacle for his training and for the trips he had to do to confront the top-level athletes in windsurfing and evolve. He thought of quitting, but finally he responded with even more training. Byron met the sport’s legend Nikos Kaklamanakis, who became his coach and helped him focus on his evolution. And then, bwin helped him to level up.
Windsurfing is a very expensive sport, since the equipment and the travels cost a lot of money. His inclusion in the sponsoring scheme “We support the new generation of Olympians” had a double pay. Bwin helped Byron to obtain all the necessary equipment, but also the brand helped the younger athletes of the scheme to evolve, since the experienced windsurfer became a mentor for them. He came close to the younger ones and passed them his work ethic. As he says, bwin was the most decisive factor of his career, since without its support he would not be able to raise to his current level.
Kokkalanis is getting ready for the Tokyo Olympics with Nikos Kaklamanakis by his side. The latter, nicknamed “son of the wind”, was his role model and became his mentor. He managed something very important. To implant his winning mentality. And like Byron does, Kaklamanakis underlines the relation that his athlete built with bwin, which supports him no matter the results, without putting him any pressure.
The fifth position in Olympic Games is a dream for many athletes, but for Byron is not enough. This demonstrates his mentality and his faith, his fight to reach the pedestal and win a medal for Greece. The challenge of the Tokyo’s Olympics had to wait for a year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but for Kokkalanis these extra 12 months are just extra time for work, in order to make history: In the summer of 2021, the Greek champion will be 35 years old. No one in the long history of the Games managed to win a medal at that age. But both Kokkalanis and Kaklamanakis worships the challenge. They know how to carry off in such circumstances.
The Greek champion is more focused than ever in his way to Tokyo. His daughter and bwin give him extra strength!