He grips the world with his records
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He grips the world with his records

A few hours before the start of the meeting in Leuven, France, Miltos Tendoglou learned that the world federation had cancelled his competition in Torun and his jump of 8.40m, which was the world’s best this year. The reason for this decision was the use of “illegal” shoes, which raised a storm of reactions since the Olympic gold medallist had been given the “okay” to use the same shoe model just in a different colour. His “response” was immediate: he performed the four best performances in the world in that race and proved once again that he is one of the few athletes in the world track and field who can be so easily at the top.

 The best performance in the world, following the federation’s decision, remained in the hands of Jeremiah Davis (8.28m at a meeting in the USA) for just a few hours after Miltos Tendoglou landed at 8.32m with his very first jump in Leuven and took the top spot again. He followed up with another jump of 8.37m and a third jump of 8.34m. As he had said on Wednesday morning, he was not interested in the jump at 8.40m because he could do a similar jump “whenever he wanted”. That’s exactly what he did: With his fourth jump he “flew” to 8.41m, further improving his performance. Tendoglou’s performance is his second best in the indoor competition, after the 8.55m he achieved last year in Belgrade, while he also passed the 8.40m which was the Panhellenic record.  

Tendoglou became again the first story of the world athletics and the first trend in the Greek Twitter, with him thanking the Greeks for the support they provided him with a post on Instagram. “Greeks, you are the biggest players in all of Europe, thank you so much for the support and epic comments. No result is better than what happened today. Many great athletes supported me immediately. I want to thank you all. You are like family to me,” he wrote in his post.  

The “Tendoglou phenomenon”

At just 24 years old, the “phenomenal” athlete has achieved things that for many others seem like an impossible dream. The child who started in Grevena doing parkour only to be discovered by his first coach Vangelis Papanikos and to give him a chance to try his hand at jumping, has already managed to win – among others – two gold medals at the European Championship and one at the World Championship and of course the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the first gold medal won by a Greek athlete in the long jump at the Olympics.

His achievements and records are countless, but he has achieved something that is perhaps even more difficult than these: To inspire with his humility, his attitude and the way he manages all these accolades in his chosen sport. “First and foremost, I respect all athletes. I respect their effort. I respect all professions in general. I don’t think what I do is any harder compared to someone who works eight hours in construction. My best friend works in a bakery in Grevena. I know it’s hard work, all jobs are hard. I respect anyone who tries.” This earlier statement manages to sum up his athletic quality in a few lines.