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Greek girls travel far to chase Olympic dream

Dimitra and Ioanna are hoping to make their dream come true by doing well in Antalya and qualifying for Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games
Athens, Greece, May 13, 2014 – Greece’s youth national team duo Dimitra Manavi and Ioanna Parisaki faced a big obstacle – their distance from each other in training – to be able to represent their country at the 2014 CEV Youth Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Final from May 15 to 17 in Antalya, Turkey, where the six women’s teams who will play at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games will be determined.

Dimitra is a resident of Thessaloniki in Northern Greece and Ioanna was born and raised in Volos in Central Greece. Those 200 kilometres between the two cities is the distance that they have to cover every weekend to practice as a pair on the sand. 

“Of course it is not easy, but it is our choice and we do it with our hearts,” said Dimitra, daughter of Maria Deligiani, a former national team player. “If you want to achieve something important in your life you have to make sacrifices.” 

“For me there was no other sport, only volleyball,” added the 17-year-old, who is also playing indoor volleyball at the Earinos Sports Club. 

Last month, Dimitra celebrated as a member of Greek College (Elliniko Kolegio), the third place finish at the World School Games in Espinho, Portugal. 

Ioanna, on the other hand, had no family tradition in sports, especially in volleyball, but after a few training sessions she got hooked. 

“When I first played beach volleyball I did not like it at all,” said Parisaki. “But practice after practice, day by day, I started changing my mind and now I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to compete in such a prestigious tournament.” 

Dimitra and Ioanna started practicing as a pair since February 2013; and in August 2013, they won the gold medal at the BVA U20 Balkan Championship. 

“This was our first major success, but we know that in Antalya it will be much more difficult,” said Dimitra. “Every athlete’s dream is to compete at the Olympics and I hope we will make our dream come true.” 

“It is going to be a great experience, we want to seize it and enjoy it all the way through,” added Ioanna. “When I started playing volleyball I could not dare to dream about the Olympics, but now I feel ready to make this big step.”


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