With the eyes shut you can think, dream and fight. In the case of Spyros Gianniotis you reach your goal with your eyes shut. You reach your ideal state. Spyros left Corfu, NAOK and his family to swim in the open sea of his ideals. And he shut his eyes, as he said after the race, during the last meters of the race of his life. He was aching, thirsty, enjoying. He won. With his eyes shut. But we owe to keep our eyes open to see those who are fair when they compete and those who are not. Read here before and after the grand finale of a great man, a great kid.
Spyros Gianniotis, the Corfiot worldwide swimmer, a Hellenic heroic figure who makes you proud for your country. He has been awarded thirty times Greek champion, two times world champion and he has raced in four Olympiads without winning a medal. In a few months at the Rio Olympiad will dive for the fifth time and last at this level. Guess his ambition.
Goal of a lifetime the Olympic medal
Truly Spyro in our hearts you have won the Olympic medal after the London race in 2012. Your «apology» for the fourth place made all Greeks cry with you and love you for what you are. You have won global recognition. What this medal will mean to you?
Leaving Corfu I had a dream. The same dream I have today and this is an Olympic medal. I keep training daily and I will give 100% of my abilities at the Games. This is what is missing in my life.
Spyros Gianniotis born on 19th February 1980 in Liverpool, his mother English and his father Corfiot. He spent his childhood in Corfu, in the island whose habitants were famous for their sailing skills since the ancient times. The endless dives in Kavos and the encouragement of his mother Brenda Sweeney with a significant swimming career drove Spyros to NAOK’s swimming pool.
“Well begun is half done”. What have you kept from your beginning in Corfu?
It is not only one, there are a many. Those they have shaped my character and still those guide me. What I remember strongly is the travels, the races, my friends – a good company, my coaches and my first races. Wherever I go this Corfu I always got it in my backpack.
Though the swimming pool of Corfu is Olympic size soon proved small for such a talent. At the age of 17, while his classmates were flirting with girls, Spyros inspired by the Corfiot spring nature, loaded with his baggage, left the island and his family for a journey of solidarity heading to championship. He moved to Athens, where there are the opportunities for such talents and «dived into deep waters».
Swimmer’s life is solitary. The mileage you swim daily in the waters, the smell and taste of the sea, the sound, what does it mean to you?
Your question my friend is my answer. All of these are my character, it’s me. Without the sea, the feel of the water, the intensity and the willing to be better, I wouldn’t be able to live. As Akis Panou sings «it my whole life»!
Spyros has swum everywhere. A sea world traveler from Sydney and Melbourne, Australia to Shanghai and Beijing, China. This is the way DNA works, his father Dionyssis Gianniotis is a successful businessman in tourism.
This special relationship between of the man with the water element, the physical attraction can lead to interesting projects of swimming tourism. From your travels around the world, you participation in several sports events, how you see the development of this alternative form of tourism?
This is a fact, as you said I see it everywhere I go that sports tourism is growing. Modern man’s lifestyle makes imperative to play sports. Our country is the ideal stadium and when you got such a beautiful island like Corfu with such bitches and landscapes, if you work it properly it will be an attraction for the whole world.
I would like to end our discussion with two advices for those reading this interview. What would you advise the young athletes of NAOK and young people of Corfu in general.
I would tell them never quit and be fighters. Whichever is their choice. Fight for it. If you love what you do you it will take you far in this life physically and mentally.
What would you advise to do our foreign visitors in the island?
We could talk for hours. But certainly I would urge them to swim in the crystal waters of the north and then left to the magic and beauty of the old town. I certainly would do it!
He said it and he did it both. He won the medal, we all know and no one will forget, and came to Corfu straight from Rio. He gave the biggest race of his life, he moved to tears the whole world with heart and soul and he return home victorious. In Corfu. In NAOK. Like children returning home to show their grades to their mums. Every person at great times returns to their people. And Spyros returns to Corfu and NAOK. Where else?
Spyros left Corfu, NAOK and his family to swim in the open sea of his ideals. And he shut his eyes, as he said after the race, during the last meters of the race of his life. He was aching, thirsty, enjoying. He won. With his eyes shut. But we owe to keep our eyes open to see those who are fair when they compete and those who are not. Read here before and after the grand finale of a great man, a great kid.
© NAOK, 2015