Voula Patoulidou

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Voula Patoulidou
Voula Patoulidou.JPG
Medal record
Women's Athletics
Representing  Greece
Olympic Games
Gold 1992 Barcelona 100 m hurdles
Mediterranean Games
Gold 1991 Athens 100 m
Silver 1991 Athens 100 m hurdles

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
6 August 1992 100 m hurdles Barcelona, Spain 12.64 s (NR)
14 July 1990 100 m Trikala, Greece 11.27 s
4 June 1995 Long jump Chania, Greece 6.71 m
24 February 2001 60 m Pireas, Greece 7.31 s

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. Indeed, the medal haul for Greece at the Olympics has increased from 2 in 1992 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 4x100 m relay team that reached the semi-finals and ended up in the 13th place. She was given an honorary place in the 4x100 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.

Achievements[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Notes
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 15th (sf) 100 m
1990 Balkan Games Istanbul, Turkey 1st 100 m
Balkan Games Istanbul, Turkey 1st 100 m hurdles
1991 World Championships Tokyo, Japan 14th (sf) 100 m
Mediterranean Games Athens, Greece 1st 100 m
Mediterranean Games Athens, Greece 2nd 100 m hurdles
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 1st 100 m hurdles
1994 Balkan Games Trikala, Greece 1st Long jump
1995 World Indoor Championships Barcelona, Spain 10th Long jump
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, USA 10th Long jump
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 13th (sf) 4 x 100 m relay

References[edit]