Marathon becomes another bridge of Sino-Greek friendship and cooperation

Athens, April 17 (IANS) More than 3,000 runners from across Greece attended the third annual Half Marathon race of the Marathon Municipality and Run in History in the birthplace of the Marathon race on Sunday.

This year’s edition turned into a new bridge of friendship and cooperation between Greece and China, as the Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli was the chief guest of the event, reports Xinhua.

Upon an invitation by the Marathon Municipality Mayor Ilias Psinakis, the ambassador fired the starting shot for the 21.097-kilometre course, a 3-kilometre fun race and a relay accompanied by the warm applause of the cheering crowd.

Local elementary school students who participated in an one-km children’s race, mothers with babies on strollers and white-haired runners accompanied by their pets took position at the historical starting point of the classic route of the marathon, following in the footsteps of Pheidippides.

Among them was Dimitra Korokida, a Greek para athlete, world champion in shot put in Doha in 2015, who led the race by hand cycling.

For Korokida, the 3rd Marathon Half Marathon was part of her training for the upcoming 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, she told Xinhua at the finish line.

For other runners and spectators who heard her story of how she never gave up teaching Taekwondo after the 2002 accident which changed her life, she was an inspiration to keep going in sports and life no matter the difficulties.

Marathon city is located 42 kms from Athens and is the place where the “Athens Authentic Marathon” is also held each November.

The legend, which inspired the modern Marathon races across the world, states that soldier Pheidippides was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. After running the distance nonstop and delivered the great news to Athenians he collapsed and died.

Mayor Psinakis was impressed when he learnt from the Ambassador that in China elementary and middle school students are being taught the history of Greece and the Marathon.

“I feel very blessed to have the Chinese ambassador here. He love his country and he loves Greece. We have many common ideas on how to bring together the two nations, China and Greece, two very old civilizations,” the Mayor told Xinhua.

“I was honoured to be invited to fire the starting shot. Today I fulfilled a three-decade wish to be at the starting point of a Marathon race at the birthplace of the event,” the Chinese ambassador said.

“The Marathon race is not only a sports event, but a bridge of friendship between the two countries and people. This is a new beginning in bilateral collaboration,” he said.

After being awarded the medal of the “Ambassador of the Marathon to the World” by Mayor Psinakis, Zou pledged to work hard to promote the Marathon to China.

Both officials stressed that Greeks and Chinese were discussing several major projects of cooperation in sports, culture, trade and other sectors.

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