Interview by Despina Dimotsi

Katerina Stefanidi is a Pole Vault champion, Olympic gold medalist and world champion. She won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games with a jump of 4.85 meters. She also competed at the 2012 and 2020 Summer Olympics. She has a record of 4.91 meters in the open and 4.90 meters in the indoor track. She is the European Open Athletics Champion (2018) and the Diamond League (2019), champion at the World Indoor Track and Field Championships, champion at the European Indoor Track and Field Championships and twice won the bronze medal at the World Indoor Track and Field Championships.

She became European champion at the European Championships in Amsterdam in 2016 (with 4.81 m), European champion at the European Indoor Championships in 2017 (with 4.85 m) and world champion at the World Athletics Championships in London in 2017 (with 4, 91 m), which puts her in fifth place in the Pole Vault of all time. She won a total of 10 medals in all international sports championships. She was named Athlete of the Year in Europe for 2017 and Athlete of the Year in Greece for 2017 and 2019. [5] She is widely considered as the best athlete in the history of Greek sports. In September 2020 it was announced that she would return to the SPIRE Institute to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Issue 3 – Summer 2022

DD: You have conquered everything that an athlete could dream of. How do you feel about that?

ΚS: 2-3 years ago, I would have answered …. I do not feel any difference as before. My daily life is full of a lot of training and recovery. Now I will answer a little differently. I feel that because of my endurance I have become a role model for some children. This makes me happy but also creates a burden for me in terms of what I will say and how I will behave. But I want to believe that I have become a role model for some people, not because of my athletic success but because of who I am as a person.

DD: America is considered the land of opportunity. How is life there for an athlete who has decided to leave Greece and pursue her dreams?

ΚS: While I was a student, life was very different from that of an active student-athlete in Greece. Everything is much closer so you do not spend hours in the car and both teachers and coaches understand that you are not just there to study or just to do sports but for both. I no longer consider my life to be much different from that of a professional athlete in Greece. To be precise, we are in Greece for about six months a year and really our life is almost no different during these six months.

DD: Championship and studies when carried out simultaneously have great demands. How did you manage to excel in both with great success?

ΚS: I learned from a young age how to manage my time. But as I said earlier, the conditions at the University also helped a lot. However, at some point I felt that as long as I did them in parallel, I did not give 100% to both. They were both a little behind. And that’s why in 2015 I decided to take a year off from my studies and of course since then due to tournament obligations I have not been able to return.

DD: In Greece, more specific sports are promoted and not all as they should be. How much has this changed after the great successes of yours and the other athletes?

ΚS:I do not think it has changed much. There has always been a display of our sports during the Olympic Games and World Championships. But until there. On the track for example there are 15 Diamond Leagues a year which are as difficult as a world championship or the

Olympics and few are unfortunately involved. In Greece, the best promotion is no longer given to athletes (regardless of sport) but to reality show contestants

DD: How did the Pole vault come about and how did it prevail in relation to other sports that you liked?

ΚS: When I was little I got bored very easily and the reason that kept me close was that it had a huge variety. Later some successes came and as a small child It was something I really liked.

DD: What gave you the strength to continue what you do when there were difficulties?

ΚS: That I really like what I do. I have a unique opportunity to work daily with my husband on an object that we both love very much and despite the difficulties we enjoy it every day.

DD: Athletic career or family? How can these two be combined.

ΚS : I have stated again that I could not have children and then leave them and travel. Here I feed some stray kittens and I get upset when we leave for a fight ha-ha. So, I would not like to be an active athlete and mom. Also, contrary to my statements in previous years, I’m not sure if I want to be a mom. I do not know if I want to bring a child into this world with all these problems. It may be very pessimistic but that’s how I feel right now.

DD: Would you return at some point in the future, back to Greece? And why;

ΚS: Yes, we have discussed it a lot with my husband about the future and he wants it too. Although I think at the moment, we have a perfect balance with six months in America and six in Greece. The why is the way of life. That we work to live we do not live to work.

Από ermag

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