Dora Gountoura made her dream come true as she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after her performance at the World Championships in Budapest! The 24-year-old athlete was determined to grab the chance and now she set sails for a medal in Tokyo!
“Being a champion is not a walk in the park”, once said Jacques Rogge, former President of the IOC, and all these years Gountoura had to take the hard way in order to reach the top. She had difficult moments, but despite the obstacles she encountered, she never gave up. And with bwin helping and supporting her, she qualified for the Olympics!
With Bwin on her side
Gountoura didn’t have the luxury of competing in the 10 tournaments which annually determine the Classification Reference Chart, before the support she got from bwin. The Greek athlete was able to travel to 3, maybe 4, tournaments every year and no matter how good her performance was, she couldn’t keep up with other athletes, who participated in all 10 tournaments. Another issue was the fact that in Greece there weren’t many available opponents to practice and compete at the highest level. Thanks to bwin, she travels more abroad for tournaments and trainings, something that has improved her preparation level. Through more tournaments and better training conditions she managed to reach her full potential! In a single year, Gountoura reached the top 14 of the Classification Reference Chart, starting from the top 40. From there the 12th position was really close. She managed to achieve it and then she qualified for the Olympics.
As she herself acknowledges, having bwin on her side is not just about the financial help. “We, athletes, don’t need only the financial backing. Of course, that is important as well, but what’s truly essential is to feel that someone is close to you, listening to your problems and helping you deal with them. It’s great to have your phone ringing during the pandemic and being asked seemingly simple questions like “are you fine?”, “do you have a place to train?”, “is your gear in good condition?”, “do you need anything?”, “do you want to take a coronavirus test?”. You then understand that they really care about you, that they want to be next to you, that they realize how challenging this time is for you and that they want to help you overcome all difficulties”, says Gountoura.
Talented and highly motivated
Bwin remains true to its vision to support sports in Greece and became Grand Sponsor of Gountoura, AEK’s champion, giving her the boost she was looking for. Bwin from the very beggining believed in Gountoura’s talent and personality and decided to support her unconditionally on her efforts to reach the Olympics. Together, they set out to prove that dreams can come true in sports. Now, they write a new page in Greece’s sports history.
The 24-year-old athlete won the Bronze Medal in World Cup Akropolis in 2020. No other Greek athlete achieved something similar in the past. And she did it, suffering from bronchitis throughout the whole tournament! That says a lot about her character. Gountoura didn’t have much time to celebrate her success, as the COVID-19 pandemic broke out soon. The last tournament she would take part in and would seal her qualification to the Olympics was supposed to start two weeks after “Akropolis”. Of course, it was cancelled. Gountoura would never give up that easily. She and her trainer came up with a lonesome training plan which would keep her sharp. A year later she traveled to Budapest and was ready for every challenge. The only thing on her mind was reaching the Olympics.
“I wasn’t thinking of the obstacles I faced, nor I feared any of my opponents. The only thing that worried me was whether I would be able to give 100% after one year of absence from the strips. If I would be my usual self. It was more of a personal concern”, she confessed. At the crucial moment, though, she proved how strong she is.
The goal is a medal!
She realized her success when she qualified for the “16” of the tournament. That was enough for a ticket to the Olympics. “The feeling I had was the same as the day I was about to travel. My breath was taken away. People close to me had never seen me so nervous before. As soon as I realized that my goal was achieved, I just took a big breath!”, stated Gountoura. Now, her next big goal is winning an Olympic medal. Everyone in Greek sports saw that thanks to bwin’s support, the hopes of international success for our country are even bigger!