Voula Patoulidou

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Voula Patoulidou
Voula Patoulidou.JPG
Patoulidou in 2006
Medal record
Women's Athletics
Representing  Greece
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona 100 m hurdles
Mediterranean Games
Gold medal – first place 1991 Athens 100 m
Silver medal – second place 1991 Athens 100 m hurdles
Bronze medal – third place 1991 Athens 4 x 100 m relay

Paraskevi ("Voula") Patoulidou (Greek: Παρασκευή "Βούλα" Πατουλίδου, born 29 March 1965) was born in Tripotamo (now part of Florina). A prolific athlete, Patoulidou throughout her athletics career competed in the 100 metres, 100 metres hurdles and in the long jump events. Patoulidou became a Greek sporting legend in 1992, when she was the surprise winner of the Women's 100 m hurdles race at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, she was the candidate for the Prefecture of Thessaloniki in the local elections of Autumn 2006 supported by the opposition party of PASOK, but lost the election to Panagiotis Psomiadis.

Personal bests[edit]

Date Event Venue Performance
10 February 1990 60 metres Ghent, Belgium 7.29 s
4 March 1990 60 m hurdles Glasgow, Scotland 8.08 s
14 July 1990 100 metres Trikala, Greece 11.27 s
6 August 1992 100 m hurdles Barcelona, Spain 12.64 s NR
4 June 1995 Long jump Chania, Greece 6.71 m

Barcelona 1992[edit]

On 5 August 1992, Patoulidou was celebrating for having qualified for the final in the 100 m hurdles by improving her personal best from 12.96 (set in the qualifying round) to 12.88 seconds in the semi-finals. This success made her the first Greek woman ever to reach a track final in the Olympic Games, a great feat in its own right.

One day later, however, one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Olympic Games was to take place; the clear favourite of the 100 m hurdles final, Gail Devers of the United States, made a mistake and tripped on the last hurdle. Patoulidou took advantage and lunged her body forward for the finishing line. Having crossed the line in 12.64 seconds (a Greek national record that still stands), Patoulidou immediately threw her hands in the air celebrating what she thought was a silver medal. When she watched the replay of the race on the stadium's big screen and realised that she had won the race, Patoulidou fell to her knees and put her hands over her face in astonishment. In her first interview to the Greek journalists minutes after the race, Patoulidou dedicated her medal to her home country by saying “For Greece, dammit!”, a catchphrase that is still in use.

The official results:

  1. Paraskevi Patoulidou (GRE) - 12.64
  2. LaVonna Martin (USA) - 12.69
  3. Yordanka Donkova (BUL) - 12.70
  4. Lynda Tolbert-Goode (USA) - 12.75
  5. Gail Devers (USA) - 12.75
  6. Aliuska Lopez (CUB) - 12.87
  7. Natalya Kolovanova (CIS) - 13.01
  8. Odalys Adams (CUB) - 13.57

The aftermath[edit]

The unheralded victory made Patoulidou the first female Greek sportswoman to win an Olympic gold medal, Along with Pyrros Dimas, who won a gold medal in weightlifting during the same Games, Patoulidou is considered to have inaugurated a new era for Greek sports. Notably, Greek athletes often refer to Patoulidou's triumph as the defining moment and inspiration in their quest for Olympic success. After the 2 medals in 1992 the medal haul for Greece at the Olympics increased to 8 in 1996, 13 in 2000 and 16 in 2004.

After 1992[edit]

After her Olympic gold medal Patoulidou decided to switch back to the long jump, her first love, believing that she had achieved as much as possible in the 100 m hurdles, she is vindicated for her choice when she participated in her second Olympic Games' Final, in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, finishing 10th.

In the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Patoulidou was a member of the 4 × 100 m relay team that reached the semi-finals and ended up in the 13th place, she was given an honorary place in the 4 × 100 m relay team in the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, participating for the fifth time in the Olympic Games at the age of 39.

She was the only woman amongst the five Greek sporting legends chosen to be the penultimate runners in the 2004 Olympic torch relay, along with Nick Galis, Mimis Domazos, Kakhi Kakhiashvili and Ioannis Melissanidis (see 2004 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony), she was also one of the penultimate runners of the 1996 torch relay in Atlanta, joining Evander Holyfield and Janet Evans.

International competitions[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
1987 Mediterranean Games Latakia, Syria 6th Long jump 5.54 m
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 41st (h) 100 m 11.85
15th (h) 4 × 100 m relay 45.44
1989 European Indoor Championships The Hague, Netherlands 9th (h) 60 m 7.42
World Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 11th (sf) 60 m 7.47
1990 European Indoor Championships Glasgow, United Kingdom 15th (h) 60 m 7.44
7th (sf) 60 m hurdles 8.08
Balkan Games Istanbul, Turkey 1st 100 m
1st 100 m hurdles
European Championships Split, Yugoslavia 13th (sf) 100 m 11.62
11th (sf) 100 m hurdles 13.07
1991 Mediterranean Games Athens, Greece 1st 100 m 11.48
2nd 100 m hurdles 12.96
3rd 4x 100 m relay 44.77
World Championships Tokyo, Japan 14th (sf) 100 m 11.51
14th (sf) 100 m hurdles 11.51
1992 European Indoor Championships Genoa, Italy 17th (h) 60 m hurdles 8.33
Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 1st 100 m hurdles 12.64 (NR)
1994 European Indoor Championships Paris, France 17th (q) Long jump 5.98 m
Balkan Games Trikala, Greece 1st Long jump
1995 World Indoor Championships Barcelona, Spain 10th Long jump 6.44 m
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden Long jump NM
1996 European Indoor Championships Stockholm, Sweden 11th Long jump 6.15 m
Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 10th Long jump 6.37 m
1997 World Indoor Championships Paris, France Long jump NM
World Championships Athens, Greece 36th (q) Long jump 5.90 m
1999 World Championships Seville, Spain 13th (h) 4 × 100 m relay 44.68
2000 European Indoor Championships Ghent, Belgium 20th (h) 60 m 7.39
Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 46th (h) 100 m 11.65
13th (sf) 4 × 100 m relay 43.53
2001 World Indoor Championships Lisbon, Portugal 17th (sf) 60 m 7.34
2002 European Indoor Championships Vienna, Austria 18th (h) 60 m 7.48