A student from De Montfort University (DMU) has narrowly missed out on the chance to throw the javelin for her country at the London Olympics.
Olga Kotmilosi – who has just graduated with a degree in Government and Politics – thought that she would be representing Greece at the Games after throwing a massive 64m in February this year.
No other Greek athlete was able to throw further at the recent national championships in Athens, so the 27-year-old from Thessaloniki was looking forward to competing against the world’s finest javelin throwers at the London Olympics on Tuesday (7 August).
But, instead, Olga is watching the Games at home, after hearing that an athlete who threw over 56m at the European championships had been given the one place on the Greece team.
“It’s a huge disappointment and I’m still so upset,” said Olga, who threw her first javelin at the age of 11.
“I threw really well at the national championships in Athens but the javelin just didn’t pin down – I got three faults and was then disqualified.
“I hoped that the throws I’d registered in the UK would be taken into account by the selectors but, unfortunately, I lost my place to a more experienced athlete.”
As a teenager, Olga regularly competed in the Balkan championships and the European Cup, but gave it all up in 2008 when her coach passed away.
“I came to De Montfort University in 2009 to make a fresh start and to concentrate on my studies,” she said.
“But then, in June last year, I talked to my coach’s widow – and she persuaded me to take up javelin throwing again.”
After three years away from the sport, Olga picked up where she’d left off, throwing 64m just eight months after her comeback.
Since then, she’s been training hard, building the strength, power, elasticity and speed needed to be a top javelin thrower. And, despite tearing two ligaments in her elbow in April, Olga was hoping to be at her best when the javelin competition starts in the Olympic Stadium on 7 August.
“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I really believed that I would be throwing the javelin at the London Olympics – and if Greece had been able to send more than one javelin thrower, I probably would have been.”
But despite the disappointment of missing out on the Olympics’ opening ceremony, Olga was at least able to enjoy her graduation ceremony, leaving DMU after three years of hard work with a 2:1 in Government and Politics.
“It’s been really hard, combining my studies with my training,” she said.
“But I’ve had great support from my tutors at DMU. They’ve all been really understanding, and allowed me some flexibility when deadlines have clashed with competitions.”
Olga’s tutor at DMU, Alistair Jones – who’s principal lecturer in public policy, government and management – is proud of her achievements.
“When Olga arrived in Leicester three years ago, she had to get to grips with a new subject area and a new language,” he said.
“The first three months were incredibly tough for her, but she stuck with it and she’s managed to improve her English while combining her academic studies with a rigorous training programme.
“We’re extremely proud of her – she’s a credit to her family and the university.”
More sports stories from DMU are available at www.dmu.ac.uk/summerofsport
Posted on Friday 3rd August 2012