On top of the world the Greek karate champion
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On top of the world the Greek karate champion

A golden page for Greek sport was written in the past few days in Budapest, at the World Karate Championships. The Greek champion, Stefanos Xenos, forced the fans of the sport to bow to the Greek flag and to him, after his sweeping performance in the final of the -60k Kumite category, where he defeated with 7-1 Kaysar Alpisbai from Kazakhstan, who is number 7 in the world ranking. To reach the top of the world, Stefanos Xenos in the semi-final, defeated Turkey’s Eray Samdan, taking his own… revenge as he was defeated in 2022 at the European Championships in Madrid, again in the semi-final stage.

This huge success for the 23-year-old champion comes five years after Elena Hadjiliadou’s gold medal in 2018 in Madrid. Stefanos Xenos, managed to emerge as the best in his category, in which the 71 best athletes from 71 countries of the world participated.

As you can understand, the environment plays a very important role, my father is a coach, in addition to my mother, and my older brothers were already champions, so I couldn’t do otherwise,” he said a few days after his success, speaking to state television.

“We athletes sacrifice too much,” he said, explaining that “I see friends my age getting their degrees, kids working. I don’t foresee getting my degree anytime soon and the reason is that I’ve dedicated myself to the sport.”

Unfortunately, once again, the Greek state was not on his side: “Financially we are in a difficult situation. The financial situation is difficult. As long as a sport is not Olympic in Greece, there are not the same grants, there is no financial support and I don’t know how much longer I can do it”.

“For this season alone I must have given 6,000-7,000 euros for tickets, accommodation, etc. And these tournaments are in order to have a place in the world ranking. Since the sport has been out of the Olympics, my dreams have been destroyed,” he explains and continues: “I feel there is an injustice that karate was taken out of the Olympic program and didn’t make it to the Los Angeles Olympics. It is a sport that cultivates morality, spirit and body. It helps children to build character. It is a popular and well-rounded sport. All over the world hundreds of thousands of children are involved in karate.”

And maybe the state was not close to him in this self-denying effort, but his people were there. His father, Nektarios Xenos and his mother, Mariza Soubasaki, both old karate champions, but also his older brother, Dionyssis, by 5 years, with whom from an early age, they did everything together. From the daily training and competitions to the big successes.

“In all the competitions we took part in abroad we were both on the podium in our categories. Only this time Dionysus didn’t get a medal and that’s why I’m not excited. Instead of being happy, I’m sad. Dionyssis has dedicated too many hours of his life for me to reach the level I am at now,” Stefanos Xenos tells Kathimerini.

In 2021 Stefanos Xenos won his first medal in the men’s singles. He came third in Europe in the 60 k. Since then, he has won another bronze and a silver at the European level and, now, he has won the biggest distinction a karate athlete can add to his collection: the world medal.