This gymnast made an amazing comeback to Olympic level competition in 2012, after missing not one, but two Olympic Games since competing at her first Olympics in 2000. At the age of 28, she had to defy not only her increasing age, but also the reaction of some of her own team mates. I chatted to her after podium training in London.
Why did you give up gymnastics after Sydney 2000?
Before 2004 I had stopped for three years because my federation said I was too old. I was 19 then and I was very sad about that. I didn’t want to go into the gym.
You came back to gymnastics after a few years, but what was the hardest part of your return?
The most difficult thing was the other girls on my team. They were too young for me, they didn’t understand me. They said “Why are you coming back? You’re too old.” I think they were afraid I would take their place. And so I have – all those young girls have now stopped.
How has the financial situation in Greece affected your training?
Our federation helps us a lot, but we don’t have enough money for our preparation. No medicine, no physios. But we are Greeks, we are strong and we will survive.
Indeed, Vasiliki continues to compete and represent her country, and is scheduled to compete at the 2013 World Championships in Antwerp. We wish her luck!